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Doctor Wrote His Name On His Scrub Cap And Inspired A Life-Saving Global Trend

Caitlyn Clancey 29 Aug 2020

An Australian doctor has inspired a life-saving global trend after revealing the reason why he decided to start writing both his name and occupation on his scrub cap.

As Bored Panda reported, Sydney-based anesthesiologist Dr. Rob Hackett explained his now-viral decision to create the custom cap all had to do with patient care, and trying to avoid potentially lethal mix-ups in the operating room.

During his career, Hackett has seen enough mistakes and delays at the hands of hospital staff to inspire him to take action.

Unsplash | National Cancer Institute

The operating room can quickly turn into a flurry of confusion when masked doctors are unable to identify each other's name or profession. Hackett has even seen some surgeons ask medical students to perform procedures they aren't qualified for, simply because they were mistaken for other qualified surgeons.

“I went to a cardiac arrest in a theatre where there were about 20 people in the room,” Hackett told BP. “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.”

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In an effort to remedy these identity issues, Hackett began wearing his scrub cap with his name and profession spelled out clearly on the front.

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At first, his colleagues didn't take him or his custom cap seriously.

“There were some snide remarks, like ‘can’t you remember your name?'” Hackett recalled.

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But soon, other doctors at his hospital realized the time-saving, not to mention life-saving potential of the caps, and began branding their own as well.

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“It’s so much easier to coordinate when you know everyone’s names," Hackett said. "It’s great for camaraderie and it’s great for patients as well.”

Not only do the caps prevent miss-identification in the operating room, but they also humanizes doctors, showing their patients that there are real people beneath those caps and masks.

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Recognizing just how crucial the custom caps really are, Hackett decided to create an online campaign to spread the word to even more medical staff around the world.

“The #TheatreCapChallenge is an initiative from the PatientSafe Network in response to concerns about how easily avoidable mistakes and poor communication are contributing to rising adverse events for our medical patients,” the doctor explained.

“It has been adopted around the world with studies from the US and UK demonstrating how this simple idea can decrease human errors in healthcare.”

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A quick Twitter search of #TheatreCapChallenge shows thousands of fellow medical staff who have similarly customized their own scrub caps with their names and professions.

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As for how efficient the caps really are at preventing mix-ups, Hackett says the proof is in the data.

"UK studies have shown increased name recall amongst staff from 42 to 85%, increased name and role introductions during the surgical safety checklist from 38 to 90%," he told BP. "Simulation studies at Stanford University in the US demonstrated greatly increased communication and theater efficiency.”

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Unfortunately, the campaign hasn't been entirely without push-back, particularly from medical officials higher up in command.

“Cognitive dissonance [is one of the challenges] that #TheatreCapChallenge has faced,” Hackett admitted. “It’s most likely to affect those who feel defined by their decisions often those further up the chain of command – in accepting change they’ll need to accept that what was happening previously, on their watch as it were, was not as good."

He added, “Here’s a golden opportunity for them to face up to the bullying nature they’ve been tarred with.”

h/t: Bored Panda

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