Improving Efficiency and Meeting Expectations Without Compromising Care on Trauma Surgical Rounds

Amanda Sammann, Lara Zena Chehab*, Devika Patel, Jennifer Liao, Rachael Callcut, M. Margaret Knudson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Care teams on complex surgical services face a growing list of competing expectations. Approaches to quality improvement must use minimal resources and address both system and human requirements to meet expectations without compromising care. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate that iterative prototyping, combined with a rigorous quantitative evaluation approach, can effectively improve system and stakeholder efficiency on daily trauma surgical rounds at an academic safety-net hospital and level 1 trauma center. Materials and methods: This study occurred between May 2017 and October 2017 at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. Care team members rounding on the trauma service included attending trauma surgeons, fellows, residents, interns, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and medical students. We used human-centered design to develop and test solutions to improve the surgical rounding process. Each prototype was evaluated using qualitative design research methods, which informed the next iteration. Time observations of rounding activities were adopted from the Lean methodology and tracked before and after implementation. Intern work hours, on-time operative starts, and discharge order times were also tracked before and after implementation. Results: Four prototypes were designed and iteratively implemented, producing care team satisfaction by the end of the implementation period. Discharge order times decreased by a median of 58 min, intern work hours were decreased by 97 min/d, and first operative case on-time starts increased from 40% to 63% (P < 0.05). The time spent on clarifications decreased by 4.7% (P < 0.05), allowing for more time to discuss care plans with the patients themselves. Conclusions: Iterative prototyping as part of a human-centered design methodology is a powerful tool to address complex systems with diverse interests and competing priorities. Rapid, in-context prototyping is feasible on a complex trauma surgical service and can result in improved workflows and efficiency for the system and its stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-171
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Efficiency
  • Humans
  • Innovation
  • Quality improvement
  • Rounds
  • Satisfaction


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