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Addressing the challenges of managing the operating theatre

21 Jun 2017, by Informa Insights

mike-obrien-rch-executiveWe are delighted to have Mike O’Brien, Chief of Surgery and Director of Urology, The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne to present an address with his colleague Jock Lawrie at the 2017 Operating Theatre Management Conference. At Informa Insights,  We had a short interview with Mike prior to the event.

INFORMA: In your role as Chief of Surgery at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, what do you find rewarding and the most challenging parts of managing the operating theatre?

MIKE: If I am truly honest it is probably still the operating. As a clinician leader taking direct care of patients remains the most rewarding and personally fulfilling part of my work portfolio. The challenge remains trying to influence the behaviour of 150 Senior Surgeons to get alignment with the organisation goals and imperatives. Trying to get people who have been trained to be the leader of the pack to play team sports remains my biggest challenge. Working with people like Jock and the staff of our decision support unit and seeing how they think so differently to me but who care just as passionately about the patients is a very rewarding and humbling experience.

You are going to present an address based on The RCH Melbourne’s Approach to Elective Theatre List Construction Based on Estimated Case Duration. Without giving too much away about the upcoming presentation, are you able to share some of the work you have undertaken at the RCH around elective theatre list construction?

Anyone who works in theatre environment is familiar with the concept of ‘surgical time’ and its poor relationship with real time. As a manager what we make available in the perioperative suite apart from kit, toys and expertise is time and yet we continue to permit proceduralists who are terrible at time management to allocate that precious, finite resource. We have taken a big data/data analytics approach to theatre list build that essentially proposes the best fitting theatre list from the available waiting list to give the highest probability of finishing on time while maximising theatre utilisation.

Given your vast experience, if you could give one piece of advice to a junior operating theatre nurse or doctor, what would it be?

Be humble and treat everyone with respect.

Are there any presentations from the 2017 Operating Theatre Management Conference that you are particularly looking forward to?

On day 1 I am interested in the Workplace culture piece as we have been actively working on our organisational culture for the past 3 years. Sadly, we still have a way to go so also interested in the Conflict Intelligence Workshop. Also looking forward to the work from Wollongong on their patient Journey work.

You can look forward to Dr O’Brien’s address, along with presentations from 18 other experts at this year’s Operating Theatre Management Conference on the Sunshine Coast this July.


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