Our Chairman and co-founder Dr. Marc Studer, a surgeon and active fighter jet pilot, recently had the opportunity to present his insights into the applicability of learnings from military aviation for safety in surgery. In a presentation titled ‘Aviation Safety – Can It Be Translated To Safety In Surgery’ he closed out the ‘Safety in Surgery’ symposium at 41st Annual Scientific Meeting in front of roughly 250 surgeons hosted by the Singapore Orthopaedic Association (SOA) from November 1 – 3. It was an honor to speak together with such talented presenters from across the world as part of the symposium.
A surgeon’s daily life, like the one of a military pilot, is dominated by performance pressure and comes with immense responsibility. Panic is certainly no suitable advisor when it comes to possibly lethal decisions. At Nodus Medical, we’ve found that most medical environments lack reliable tools to calmly deal with unexpected and challenging situations, instead relying on the surgeon and their individual experience. In contrast, aviation is guided by the highest process management standards and a ‘just culture’ that encourages learning and experience sharing. But are these methods from aviation transferable to the sterile environment of an operating room?
Trying to apply these methods is not something new. Ever since the WHO has come out with its simple checklist for surgical procedures in 2009, showing dramatic reductions in both complication as well as mortality rates, there has been tremendous interest in the area. With an estimated 400 million procedures in 2018 and stubbornly high rates of costly complications, the case for action is compelling.
At Nodus Medical we believe that military aviation is a much better source than simply general aviation. Just like a surgeon can’t choose to simply forego a procedure because of complicating factors, fighter jet pilots also have to follow a philosophy of ‘mission first, safety always’ instead of the typical ‘zero risk culture’ of civil aviation.
To apply these learnings in a scalable manner, we’ve developed a solution that supports surgical teams in achieving quality and safety improvements through planning, documentation and error management. It also supports process optimization through more efficient flow and decreased administrative workload, while maintaining individual flexibility through customizability for surgeons.