In the surgical and intensive care units of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, doctors knew that improving the 30 minute process to unplug and untangle (in a crowded space) all the wires and tubes from patients in order to transfer them from surgery to the ICU could directly improve patient care. Dr Allan Goldman, the head ICU doctor and Prof Martin Elliot, heart surgeon, were watching a Formula One race in the hospital's staff common room following a 12-hour emergency transplant operation and noticed how a 20-member Formula One pit crew worked seamlessly to change the car's tyres, fill it with petrol, clear the air intakes, and send it away in less than seven seconds.
So they invited the McLaren and Ferrari racing teams to work with them to identify how their own handover discipline could be more efficient. The racing technician's recommendations focused initially on equipment but then broadened out into training and process and resulted in a restructuring of the patient handover proceedure, new protocols that detailed who should be the leader in the process (the anaesthetist) and the exact task of everyone involved, diagrams that showed exactly where everyone needed to be positioned around the patient, and rehearsals to make the new processes as seamless as possible. An industrial psychologist monitored 27 operations following the adoption of the protocol and found that the number of technical errors and mistakes in information handover had almost halved. Brilliant.