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Web site aims to help improve OR safety.

It's a simple idea, but it could help save millions of lives: a Web site helping hospitals and surgeons worldwide improve surgical outcomes by making a commitment to implement proven protocols in their operating rooms, to share ideas, and to receive feedback on what works best.

Called ORReady, the grass roots project is the brainchild of Dr. Paul Alan Wetter, founder and chairman of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons. Inspired by the humble beginnings of Facebook and the power of collaboration in the Human Genome Project, Dr. Wetter decided that his idea--a global effort to improve surgical outcomes -would be just as feasible, because "smart doctors around the world can get together and do it." No bureaucracy. No big dollar budget.

Launched in early 2010, the project is still in its infancy, and the Web site ( is still maturing. But the power of it all, he said in an interview, lies in the number of people who know about it and use it.

"There are many examples of people who have really improved outcomes in surgery with increased use of safety measures," said Dr. Wetter, who is an ob.gyn. in South Miami, Fla., and an internationally recognized leader in the field of minimally invasive surgery.

He hopes that by sharing OR safety information, there will be at least a 2%-3% improvement in outcomes. That's six million lives saved worldwide each year. He hopes that hospitals, medical societies, and surgical centers worldwide will sign onto this effort within the coming years.

He admits that this is a lofty goal. But he also believes that the increasing emphasis on improving patient safety will help the initiative take off. Add to that the power of technology and collaboration: "[The] world is becoming a small place and information is disseminated quickly," said Dr. Wetter, who is also clinical professor emeritus at the University of Miami.

ORReady is a nonprofit project and is run by members and institutions that have volunteered their time and resources. The Web site follows the Creative Commons guidelines. "We encourage you to copy and use any materials that will help improve surgical outcome and create centers of merit in surgery and MIS [minimally invasive surgery]." It encourages hospitals and departments to download and sign an "Outcome Commitment Letter," to choose from a set of protocols on the Web site that suit their operating rooms, and to register as an ORReady center of merit.

The guidelines suggest several main steps for surgeons and their teams: "Slow Down for Warm Up and Check Lists; Stop for Time Out before you Go." A stoplight on the site sums up the message.

Soon, participants can register with an open-access database that can be used for sharing data, doing research to improve outcomes, and providing feedback. The school of biological and health systems engineering at Arizona State University, Tempe, has offered to help create the database.

"Information goes in; information comes out. We want to know about that [information] and we want to distribute it. Each hospital then can choose what works for them," he said.

Dr. Wetter said that so far, he has approached a handful of institutions in the United States and abroad and has received a unanimously positive response.

"Using the power of the Internet to get ideas in one place is a great idea," said Dr. Darrell A. Campbell Jr., the chief medical officer of the University of Michigan Medical System, who is not involved in the project. "I can support that wholeheartedly."

His only concern, he said, was that procedures and processes that worked for one institution might now apply to another; more research and hands-on evaluation might be needed before the process can be implemented.

The project recently won its first award. The Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons won the 2011 Alliance for Continuing Medical Education Great Idea Award in the Medical Specialty Societies Member section for introducing ORReady as a way to encourage surgical facilities to improve CME for improved surgical outcomes.

"We're looking for things that are best practices, are innovative, and that other people may want to replicate, adapt, [and] consider using," Jann Balmer, Ph.D., president of the Alliance, said in an interview.

"It's very exciting to do this and see this great enthusiasm," said Dr. Wetter. "For almost any doctor, the main concern is the safety of their patients."

Dr. Wetter is now focusing on spreading the word and making more surgeons and hospitals aware of and involved in ORReady. "The more people that know about this, the more successful it's going to be."

He hopes to see his project make an impact within the next few years.
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Title Annotation:PRACTICE TRENDS
Author:Miller, Naseem S.
Publication:OB GYN News
Date:Feb 1, 2011
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