Last Updated: November 27, 2018
Situation awareness (SA) is a state of knowledge that arises from perceiving one’s own environment, comprehending the circumstances, and predicting what will occur next. SA has been described as simply “knowing what is going on around you,” with the attendant maxim, “What? So what? Now what?”
Rooted in the fields of military operations and aviation, SA was introduced into the medical lexicon by anesthesiologists in the 1990s and has been recognized as an essential nontechnical skill for surgeons of all disciplines. This article briefly summarizes the history and conceptual framework of SA and discusses its role in the neurosurgical operating room (OR). Behavioral heuristics that facilitate SA are explored, and factors that impede SA are highlighted as pitfalls.