In August 2006, the Daily Telegraph published an article “Ferrari pit stop saves Alexander’s life”. It described the improvements to the performance of the intensive care cardiac surgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. After a particularly tough day in the office, the top paediatric cardiac team sat down and watched a Formula 1 grand prix and noticed the frenetic pace but pinpoint accuracy of the teamwork of the pit stop crews.
This was the catalyst for a collaboration initially with McLaren F1 team, then with Ferrari – Jean Todt, technical guru Ross Brawn, and race technical director Nigel Stepney. They worked together in three places: at Ferrari’s home base in Modena, Italy; in the pits at the British Grad Prix, and at Great Ormond Street theatre and intensive care ward.
Ferrari’s initial suggestion was to commission an operating table that contained all the critical systems needed to support the patient in the theatre, in transit and back on the ward. This would avoid a series of complex and high risk connections, disconnections and re-connections and the use use of temporary/transit systems between operating theatre and ward.
But this initial suggestion fwas too expensive – so the focus moved to human solutions and training methods.
The biggest impact was a major restructuring of the patient handover procedure – the number of critical instances reduced markedly as a result of introducing a modified training protocol.
The head of Cardiac surgery, Professor Eliott said: “We had all been doing this for years and we thought we were pretty good at it. After working with Ferrari and looking at videos of ourselves it was quite a shock to realise the lack of structure in what we were doing.”
And for the top team at Ferrari, “I hope we taught them something useful, because what they’ve taught us is humility.”