This blog is about my Postdoctoral research project on communication in the operating theatre, which commenced in November 2014. Here I will record the progress of the project and write about my observations about how surgeons, nurses, anaesthetists and operating department practitioners interact during surgical operations.

You might wonder what “multimodal” communication refers to. In my research, this refers to the resources people draw on when interacting with one another: talk, gaze, gesture, movement, the use of space, proximity, and material objects. I use video recordings to study these.

And why the operating theatre? Well, communication problems are the leading cause of inadvertent patient harm in the operating theatre, while efficient communication is key to patient safety. Little is still known how theatre teams communicate when surgical operations are in progress. With detailed knowledge of what makes something difficult, or indeed efficient, we will be better equipped to discuss these matters and to train new communication practices for students, trainees, and in-service professionals.