Human factors in problem management

problem managementThis article is sponsored content brought to by Advanced Anaesthesia Specialists.

Dr Nathan Koch, veterinarian and pilot, looks at the philosophy of problem management. See how vets and nurses can implement this into their practice from an anaesthesia perspective.

When he was growing up, Nathan Koch was torn between being a veterinarian and a pilot. So he did the only sensible thing—he became both.

After graduating as a vet, he worked in a mixed practice and began flying lessons at a small local airfield. He spent years juggling veterinary work with his climb up the ranks of pilots. Today he flies for Qantas.

The marriage of these two careers has given Dr Koch a unique insight into the way human factors affect both veterinary surgery and flying. Human anaesthesia, for instance, has been explored in this field, drawing inspiration from aircrew training.

“It’s rare that accidents occur in aviation but while causal factors could include faulty airplanes or equipment, the human element has to be considered,” says Dr Koch. “So pilots are acutely aware of the importance of communication, leadership and team work.”

After completing a Graduate Certificate of Technology (Aviation Human Factors), Dr Koch used his training to explore the human factor in the veterinary world. “Decision-making and communication are at the heart of good veterinary procedures,” says Dr Koch. “It’s all about the entire team knowing what’s going on and everyone being on the same page. All staff must feel comfortable in speaking up if they feel the need.

“The other important elements are leadership and followership, especially in emergency situations. When it comes to operating and managing anaesthesia, too many cooks running around is a recipe for disaster.”

Dr Koch reiterates the importance of having the whole team up to speed and involved—everyone from the kennel staff and receptionists to the veterinary surgeons and owners.

“A simple way to address the problem of the human factor is to have a short briefing about each case,” says Dr Koch. “By encouraging open communication, everyone feels empowered to speak up and information is freely shared. There are four elements that minimise the negative impact of the human factor—decision-making, teamwork, leadership and communication.”

For more information on Advanced Anaesthesia Specialists, call (02) 9808 1844.

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