Surgical Team Assessment Training: Improving surgical teams during deployment

Dwight C. Kellicut, Eric J. Kuncir, Hope M. Williamson, Pamela C. Masella, Peter E. Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background Simulation and team training are accepted as critical patient safety strategies to improve team performance and can help achieve better outcomes. Standardized and realistic drills conducted by skilled physicians and nurses who demonstrate consistent use of principles which enhance communication and teamwork increase the likelihood of improved clinical outcomes. Methods Two, 4-member surgeon/nurse teams traveled to 8 Army surgical resuscitation medical treatment facilities in Iraq during July and August 2011. At each site, a new program called Surgical Team Assessment Training was introduced and implemented to 220 military personnel. Two multi-patient scenarios were designed to test resuscitative and operating room medical decision-making, communication, and co-ordination of care. In addition, 2 hours of didactic instruction emphasized principles of TeamSTEPPS applied to emergency and operating rooms during care of patients with multiple, complex traumatic injuries. Anonymous surveys were completed by participants following the training. Results Participants were significantly more likely to rate this training as very helpful following training compared with their opinion before participation (53% vs 37%, P <.05). Seventy-seven percent felt that it would improve overall patient outcomes, 78% said it would likely contribute to saving lives in combat, and 98% felt it should be provided to military Emergency Medicine and Surgical residents. Conclusions Surgical Team Assessment Training can be successfully implemented in an austere, hostile environment and improve trauma team function by incorporating simulation training models and TeamSTEPPs concepts. Expansion of this program for predeployment and resident training is currently under investigation based on the extremely positive responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-283
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Simulation
  • TeamSTEPPS
  • Trauma training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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