Digital Operating Room assistant

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The Operating Room (OR) is a complex environment, where a large variety of patients and diseases can be treated and many unexpected events occur (such as emergency surgeries and unexpected progress of procedures). In practice, OR assistants support OR processes as well as they can, in order to deliver safe and efficient care. Therefore, they have to be aware of this complex environment, understand the situation at hand, and act accordingly. Technological support systems in the OR should strive to support OR processes in the same way OR assistants do it. The objective of this thesis is to develop technology to support healthcare professionals in improving patient safety and efficiency in the OR.

The first part presents a new approach on how to improve patient safety. This approach, called adaptive support, stands for the development of support systems that are adaptive to the different situations in the OR: automating and standardising processes when possible, and providing information and increasing awareness when needed. Technology plays a key role in adaptive support, especially in recording and analysing data to gain a deep understanding of OR processes, in real- time recognition of a situation and in designing adaptive support systems. Each of the following parts of this thesis presents one topic that have been selected to test our approach in practice: OR devices, surgical instruments and OR scheduling.

The ‘Digital Operating Room Assistant’ can be seen as an approach to support surgical practice in the same adaptive manner as operating room assistants. This thesis provides insights into how such technology can be developed, with the involvement of various disciplines, to make the surgical process easier and safer.