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HealthTechnology & Science

Handling tools and implements: teamwork & collaboration during surgical operations

Surgical procedures rely upon a complex array of tools and implements. Even brief delays in the provision of an instrument can threaten the performance of the procedure and lead to tensions within the surgical team.

In this project, we focus on their timely and relevant exchange and the ways in which surgical assistants prepare, pass and receive equipment. In particular, we address how assistants anticipate what tool is required, when and in what way, and hand implements to enable their immediate and largely unproblematic application.

We explore the ways in which the participants hands, ongoingly form and transform, to enable smooth and appropriate exchange and the ‘micro-interaction’, the agency, that underpins this complex, contingent process. In turn the analysis bears upon contemporary initiatives in ‘intelligent agency’ and the growing corpus of technical work concerned with developing robotic surgical assistants and addressing such matters touch, grip, transport and exchange.

Data consists of video recordings of surgical operations augmented by field studies and interviews with key personnel.

Project status: Ongoing

Principal Investigators