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1.  Prolonged experimental drought reduces plant hydraulic conductance and transpiration and increases mortality in a piñon–juniper woodland 
Ecology and Evolution  2015;5(8):1618-1638.
Plant hydraulic conductance (ks) is a critical control on whole-plant water use and carbon uptake and, during drought, influences whether plants survive or die. To assess long-term physiological and hydraulic responses of mature trees to water availability, we manipulated ecosystem-scale water availability from 2007 to 2013 in a piñon pine (Pinus edulis) and juniper (Juniperus monosperma) woodland. We examined the relationship between ks and subsequent mortality using more than 5 years of physiological observations, and the subsequent impact of reduced hydraulic function and mortality on total woody canopy transpiration (EC) and conductance (GC). For both species, we observed significant reductions in plant transpiration (E) and ks under experimentally imposed drought. Conversely, supplemental water additions increased E and ks in both species. Interestingly, both species exhibited similar declines in ks under the imposed drought conditions, despite their differing stomatal responses and mortality patterns during drought. Reduced whole-plant ks also reduced carbon assimilation in both species, as leaf-level stomatal conductance (gs) and net photosynthesis (An) declined strongly with decreasing ks. Finally, we observed that chronically low whole-plant ks was associated with greater canopy dieback and mortality for both piñon and juniper and that subsequent reductions in woody canopy biomass due to mortality had a significant impact on both daily and annual canopy EC and GC. Our data indicate that significant reductions in ks precede drought-related tree mortality events in this system, and the consequence is a significant reduction in canopy gas exchange and carbon fixation. Our results suggest that reductions in productivity and woody plant cover in piñon–juniper woodlands can be expected due to reduced plant hydraulic conductance and increased mortality of both piñon pine and juniper under anticipated future conditions of more frequent and persistent regional drought in the southwestern United States.
PMCID: PMC4409411  PMID: 25937906
Canopy dieback; climate change; hydraulic failure; net carbon assimilation; plant water stress; precipitation manipulation; stomatal response to drought; tree death
2.  Patient safety in the operating room: an intervention study on latent risk factors 
BMC Surgery  2012;12:10.
Patient safety is one of the greatest challenges in healthcare. In the operating room errors are frequent and often consequential. This article describes an approach to a successful implementation of a patient safety program in the operating room, focussing on latent risk factors that influence patient safety. We performed an intervention to improve these latent risk factors (LRFs) and increase awareness of patient safety issues amongst OR staff.
Latent risk factors were studied using a validated questionnaire applied to the OR staff before and after an intervention. A pre-test/post-test control group design with repeated measures was used to evaluate the effects of the interventions. The staff from one operating room of an university hospital acted as the intervention group. Controls consisted of the staff of the operating room in another university hospital. The outcomes were the changes in LRF scores, perceived incident rate, and changes in incident reports between pre- and post-intervention.
Based on pre-test scores and participants’ key concerns about organizational factors affecting patient safety in their department the intervention focused on the following LRFs: Material Resources, Training and Staffing Recourses. After the intervention, the intervention operating room - compared to the control operating room - reported significantly fewer problems on Material Resources and Staffing Resources and a significantly lower score on perceived incident rate. The contribution of technical factors to incident causation decreased significantly in the intervention group after the intervention.
The change of state of latent risk factors can be measured using a patient safety questionnaire aimed at these factors. The change of the relevant risk factors (Material and Staffing resources) concurred with a decrease in perceived and reported incident rates in the relevant categories. We conclude that interventions aimed at unfavourable latent risk factors detected by a questionnaire focussed at these factors may contribute to the improvement of patient safety in the OR.
PMCID: PMC3407486  PMID: 22726757

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