They say that sometimes the smallest gesture can have the biggest impact. This seems to be true as one doctor’s decision to write his name and job title on his scrub cap one day, has ended up changing the healthcare world and improving safety in hospitals around the world.
At first Sydney-based anesthetist, Dr. Rob Hackett did it in order to avoid any possible mix-ups in the operating room – since people can easily be mistaken – and he wanted to avoid any awkward situations. At first, the written ‘Rob – Anesthetist’ scrawled across the front of his cap in black ink got mixed reviews from his colleagues.
As he explained to the Sydney Morning Herald, “You look a little daft because not everyone is doing it. There were some snide remarks, like ‘can’t you remember your name’.”
However, Rob took the criticism and jokes in stride because to him, he had a reason for doing it. He had witnessed prior delays in performing chest compressions on patients suffering cardiac arrest because no one knew who was tasked with the job since no one in the OR had been referred to by name.
And when it comes to medical emergencies, every second
Rob continued, “When you work across four or five hospitals and with hundreds of people, I’d say 75 per cent of staff I walk past I don’t know their name. It’s quite awkward. Last Friday I went to a cardiac arrest in a theatre where there were about 20 people in the room. I struggled to even ask to be passed some gloves because the person I was pointing to thought I was pointing to the person behind them. It’s so much easier to coordinate when you know everyone’s names. It’s great for camaraderie and it’s great for patients as well.”
Now, the thinking behind the cap idea has been embraced around the world as hundreds of medical staff have seen the benefit and are taking on what’s now called the “theatre cap challenge”.
Most healthcare workers, from surgeons to midwives, have begun printing their names and titles onto their caps, as well as sharing selfies on social media.
Although the campaign has been criticized by some – mainly those who oppose change – the majority of medical staff are happy to take it on in order to promote patient safety.
Dr John Quinn, Executive Director of Surgical Affairs at the Royal Australian College of Surgeons, has referred to the campaign as “a fine idea”. Adding, “Anything that increases safety for patients in operating theatres is a good thing. I don’t see a downside to it. I guess it’s just a matter of whether they use their full name or first name, though just ‘Tim’ is better than anything in a crisis.”
What started out as an awkward move in the short term, is proving to be a game-changer in the long term. Well done, Rob.