Improving surgical ward care: Development and psychometric properties of a global assessment toolkit

Louise Hull, David Birnbach, Sonal Arora, Maureen Fitzpatrick, Nick Sevdalis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To develop a toolkit that covers the clinical, nontechnical, and empathic skills required for effective, safe surgical ward care. BACKGROUND: Despite the explosion of interest in patient safety, little attention has been placed on the skill set required for safe and effective surgical ward care. Currently, there is a lack of a systematic approach to improving ward care via assessing and improving residents'ward care skills. METHODS: A comprehensive evidence-based and expert-derived toolkit was developed, including a novel clinical checklist for ward care (Clinical Skills Assessment for Ward Care: C-SAW-C); a novel team assessment scale for wards rounds (Teamwork Skills Assessment for Ward Care: T-SAW-C); and a revised version of a physician-patient interaction scale (Physician-Patient Interaction Global Rating Scale: PP-GIS). Interassessor reliability (κ, intraclass correlation), internal consistency (Cronbach α), and convergent validity (Pearson r correlations) were evaluated statistically in 38 simulated scenarios (during which a patient rapidly deteriorated) involving 185 residents. RESULTS: Excellent interassessor reliability was obtained for C-SAW-C [median κ = 0.89; median intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) = 0.94], T-SAW-C (median ICC = 0.99), and the revised PP-GIs (κ = 1.00; ICC = 0.98 or higher). Internal consistency was also very high for all team skills assessed by T-SAW-C (Cronbach α range 0.87-0.94 across 6 skills) and the revised PP-GIS (Cronbach α = 0.96) - all P's < 0.001. Significant positive correlations were obtained between the 3 assessments (r = 0.73-0.92, P < 0.001) thus showing evidence for convergent validity. CONCLUSIONS: We developed a toolkit that captures comprehensively the skills that are required for safe and effective ward care, including the high-risk situation where a patient decompensates. The toolkit offers a systematic evaluation of the quality and safety of surgical ward care and can be used to train and debrief residents'skills and performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)904-909
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014


  • assessment
  • clinical skills
  • physician-patient interaction
  • teamwork skills
  • ward care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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