Insufficient communication and interaction in the surgical team can interfere with patient care and cause risk for adverse events. The purpose of this study was to gain understanding of factors that influence communication and interaction in surgical teams, from the perspective of the theatre nurse. A qualitative approach was chosen for this study. Observations and in-depth interviews were conducted in three hospitals in Norway 2016/2017. Twelve surgical teams were observed and one scrub nurse from each team were interviewed. Content analysis guided the analysis of data.

Three main themes were identified: The atmosphere in the room, Professional experience versus uncertainty, The room and the importance of sounds.

Challenges in communication in multidisciplinary teams during surgical procedures were elicited. Patient safety can be threatened when communication fails. Communication and interaction were promoted by means of awareness, humour and the theatre nurse’s diplomatic persistence. Preoperative and postoperative communication was elicited as important.

Keywords: communication, interaction, patient safety, perioperative nursing, surgical team