Operating rooms are complex workplaces with a high turnover of patients, information, personnel, pathology specimens, and, on occasion, blood. When the enormous revenue generated by modern operating rooms and ancillary services is considered, the means of information transfer currently available are inadequate for both optimal patient safety and clinical and fiscal efficiency. Specific problem areas in operating room information transfer relating to hospital transportation departments, fiscal services, blood banks, pathology and blood gas laboratories, preoperative patient evaluation, pharmacies, and virology are addressed to provide recommendations for system development. Recent progress in operating room and intensive care alarm and patient monitoring systems further emphasize the need for improved information transfer as a cornerstone of a hospital's quality assurance program. Our institution has developed prototype information systems which address many of these issues.
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