Your Surgeon Could Taxi to the Operating Room


Two medical professionals stand in front of a runway with a plane

At High Flight Hospital in Kitty Hawk, NC, surgeons taxi their way down surgical runways to make operating room processes run effectively.


Hospitals focus on admitting and discharging patients efficiently and safely. It is no wonder why medical centers look to other industries for ideas on safety protocols. High risk businesses such as the airline industry use protocols that focus on safety.


Dr. Harry Throttle, DO, chief of surgery at High Flight Hospital developed the surgical taxi method to create more efficient surgeons and more safe conditions for patients. Dr. Throttle explains, “One day I was washing my hands before surgery. I thought about what it would take to create a better, more efficient surgery process. We go to the operating room, and we are organized. A nurse hands me a towel and helps me put on surgical gloves. We have lots of rooms going at the same time with elective and emergency surgeries. During surgeries, we want to be cost effective by using fewer towels to dry our hands. We should flap our arms to facilitate air-drying. That is what I did as a medical student. We also need to mimic the efficiency of planes taxiing down the runway.”



"We should flap our arms to facilitate air-drying"

The process of doctors taxiing their way to the operating room is innovative. Surgeons line up in sequence, so they go efficiently to their assigned operating room. Like air traffic controllers, High Flight’s surgery schedulers work with Operating Room Traffic Control to get surgeons into their procedures on time. “We save time without cutting quality or safety. While taxiing, the doctors flap their arms to dry their hands. This saves on towels for hand drying,” says Dr. Throttle.


Vice chair of operations, Penelope Rudder, is excited about the opportunity for efficiency. “We need the right surgeon in the right operating room at the right time. Planes taxi down runways, so I am willing to give the taxi method a try,” says Rudder.

Instead of scrubs, surgeons will wear flight-suit onesies. “My toddler wears a onesie, so I did not know how well this idea would go over. But our surgeons appreciate the thoughtfulness!” reports Dr. Throttle. “Of Course, these are short sleeve onesies. The short sleeves allow for proper hand washing and surgical gloves.”


The taxi method may catch on, as High Flight Hospital collects data on the efficiency of this process.

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