A method for measuring threats and errors in surgery

K. R. Catchpole, A. E.B. Giddings, G. Hirst, T. Dale, G. J. Peek, M. R. De Leval

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


We examined the measurement of non-technical skills for surgical teams using a framework derived from aviation. Twenty four paediatric cardiac surgical and 20 orthopaedic operations were studied by a single observer. Predefined intraoperative failures were recorded, from which it was possible to derive measures of technical errors, threats, and non-technical errors (NTEs). A second non-technical scoring (NTS) method was used which required the observer to give a score from 1 to 4 on the four dimensions of the scale for three stages of each operation. There was a significant positive relationship between NTEs and operative duration in orthopaedic surgery (p < 0.01). In paediatric cardiac surgery, the ranked NTS measures correlated positively with the number of threats (p < 0.005) and with operative duration (p < 0.005). Non-technical skills measures (ranked NTS and NTEs) were also significantly positively correlated (p < 0.01). This suggests that it is possible to evaluate non-technical skills in operating theatre teams, but further work is needed to improve the reliability and accuracy of the measurement methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-304
Number of pages10
JournalCognition, Technology and Work
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Error
  • Non-technical skills
  • Safety
  • Surgery
  • Teamwork

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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