The non-technical skills of anaesthetic assistants in the perioperative period: a literature review

John Rutherford, Rhona Flin, Lucy Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Non-technical skills (NTS), which include communication, teamwork, leadership, decision-making, and situation awareness, are important in the maintenance of patient safety. NTS frameworks have been developed for anaesthetists, surgeons, and scrub practitioners. Most studies of NTS in operating theatres to date have focused on anaesthetists and surgeons. We have attempted to identify the NTS used by anaesthetic assistants in the perioperative period. An electronic search of the NHS e-library, PubMed, BioMed Central, ScienceDirect, and Scopus databases was performed in December 2010. The abstracts of the papers identified were checked for relevance and the article examined. Out of 308 papers initially identified, there were only three papers describing the use of NTS by anaesthetic assistants. Communication and situation awareness were described in three papers, teamwork and decision-making in two, and leadership in one. This search did not reveal any comprehensive description of the NTS required by anaesthetic assistants. The benefits of developing an NTS taxonomy for anaesthetic assistants are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-31
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Issue number1
Early online date11 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • anaesthesia
  • communication
  • decision-making
  • leadership
  • ODP
  • operating room technicians
  • safety


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