STOPS: A Coping Framework for Surgeons Who Experience Intraoperative Error

Jonathan D. D'Angelo, Sarah Lund, Malin Woerster, Adam P. Sawatsky, Scott R. Kelley, Eric J. Dozois, Anne Lise D. D'Angelo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To investigate the steps faculty surgeons take upon experiencing intraoperative error and synthesize these actions to offer a framework for coping with errors. Background: While intraoperative errors are inevitable, formal training in error recovery is insufficient and there are no established curricula that teach surgeons how to deal with the intraoperative error. This is problematic because insufficient error recovery is detrimental to both patient outcomes and surgeon psychological well-being. Methods: We conducted a thematic analysis. One-hour in-depth semistructured interviews were conducted with faculty surgeons from 3 hospitals. Surgeons described recent experiences with intraoperative error. Interviews were transcribed and coded. Analysis allowed for development of themes regarding responses to errors and coping strategies. Results: Twenty-seven surgeons (30% female) participated. Upon completion of the analysis, themes emerged in 3 distinct areas: (1) Exigency, or a need for training surgical learners how to cope with intraoperative errors, (2) Learning, or how faculty surgeons themselves learned to cope with intraoperative errors, and (3) Responses, or how surgeons now handle intraoperative errors. The latter category was organized into the STOPS framework: Intraoperative errors could produce STOPS: Stop, Talk to your Team, Obtain Help, Plan, Succeed. Conclusions and Relevance: This study provides both novel insight into how surgeons cope with intraoperative errors and a framework that may be of great use to trainees and faculty alike.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-292
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022


  • coping
  • education
  • errors
  • intraoperative errors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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