‘You, me, parking lot!’: Behind surgical curtain, researchers find hierarchies and gender dynamics driving conflict

During surgeries, the focus of conversation is rarely on the patient. And the atmosphere is not always collegial.
Source: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

On TV, operating rooms are a window into the perfect collaboration — surgeons, technicians, and nurses working seamlessly together for a common cause, the patient’s.

In reality, the focus of conversation is rarely on the patient. And the atmosphere is not always collegial.

A team of researchers at Emory University and Kaiser Permanente sat in on 200 surgeries at three different teaching hospitals, and logged each and every social exchange between clinical team members. What they discovered were complicated subcultures in which well-understood hierarchies and gender dynamics contributed to conflict — or helped alleviate it.

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