While names on theatre caps may seem like a simple idea, it is having great results for surgical teams at Royal North Shore Hospital thanks to their strong engagement. 

The project, which aims to improve culture and communication in the busy theatres environment, encourages all staff to label their cap with their name and their role – crucial information in a place with a large number of people and teams that are constantly changing.

Clinical Director for Surgery and Anaesthesia Dr Michelle Mulligan said the initiative had been well received by staff and was having a positive impact on patient safety. 

"The analogy we like to make is to that of an airline crew; a team that knows its roles and responsibilities is a safe team, especially in emergencies," she said. 

"Just like on a plane, everyone has a role to play in the theatre, and this is a really simple non-technical skill that enhances communication and patient safety too." 

Dr Mulligan said the names on caps were being noticed by patients, many of whom had commented how the labels had helped them feel more relaxed and comfortable on their hospital journey. 

"When everyone is dressed in scrubs, surgical caps and masks, it can be hard for staff to tell each other apart, let alone for patients," she said.

"Patients tell us being able to identify staff makes them feel more at ease and confident in asking questions about their care now they know who I who."

Staff working in theatres across the district are being encouraged to don their name and role on their cap in a small, yet effective way to improve practice.

For more information on this project, please contact Zouhdy Batshon, [email protected].