A distractions capture tool for cardiac surgery and lung transplantation: impact on outcomes

James Arkley*, Lay Ping Ong*, Niranjan Gunaratnam, Tanveer Butt, Stephen Charles Clark

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives: Surgical distractions are associated with worse patient outcomes. Lung transplantation and cardiac surgery’s multi-disciplinary nature, and their inherent complexities render them more vulnerable to distractions. We aim to use a novel distractions capture tool to evaluate the severity of distractions during cardiac surgery (CS) and lung transplantation (LTx) and assess its impact on post-operative complications. Methods: A prospective ‘blinded’ study was undertaken by direct observation of distractions during CS and LTx. Events were identified using the Imperial College Error Capture tool (ICECAP). Number and severity of distractions were correlated with post-operative outcomes (ICU & hospital stay, bleeding and anastomotic complications). Results: In LTx, we observed 2059 distractions within 287 h across 41 surgeries. In CS, we observed 1089 distractions within 192 h across 62 surgeries. Surgeons were consciously aware of 19.2% (LTx) and 21.3% (CS) of recorded events. Distractions consisted of procedure-independent pressures (61% LTx vs 56% CS), equipment problems (15% LTx vs 23%CS), communication (12% LTx vs 12% CS), technical problems or patient safety concerns (12% LTx vs 9% CS). In CS, 91% of procedure-independent pressures were non-operative distractions whilst LTx recorded 83%. Staff absences at a critical moment of surgery were recorded at 9% (LTx) and 7% (CS). The number and severity of distractions correlated with bleeding (CS p < 0.001, LTx p < 0.01), prolonged ICU stay (CS p = 0.002, LTx p = 0.002), hospital stay (CS p < 0.001) and anastomotic complications(LTx p < 0.03). Conclusions: ICECAP as a novel surgical distractions capture tool was effective & applicable to both elective cardiac and urgent transplant surgeries. Surgeons were unaware of a large number of distractions & interruptions. Distractions were associated with longer ICU stay and higher rate of bleeding.

Original languageEnglish
Article number46
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cardiothoracic Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2023

Cite this