Surgical team approach improves patient safety

People in Pennsylvania are becoming more aware of the risk of medical errors and their need to remain vigilant and active in their healthcare. When undergoing surgery, however, patients are at a natural disadvantage for this as they are under anesthesia and therefore not always able to know when surgical errors take place. This puts more responsibility on the entire operating room staff to help prevent serious injury or even death to patients.

Hospitals around the nation are tasked with preventing things like the improper use of medical equipment, a wrong-site surgery, having surgical equipment left inside a patient and more. At Johns Hopkins University, a comprehensive new program has been developed in the colorectal surgical department with this in mind. The process includes a pre-surgery team briefing, a post-surgery team debriefing, use of checklists and weekly team reviews and communications. All surgical staff members participate in the program.

Such efforts have been shown to be effective in reducing surgical errors. A study conducted at multiple hospitals in the Veterans Affairs system showed a reduction in surgical fatalities by 18 percent when thorough training on operating room teamwork was instituted. This compares to a reduction in surgical fatalities of only seven percent when no such training existed. A separate study suggests the difference may be as great as 20 percent.

A single surgeon mistake can change a person’s life forever. Patients deserve to know they are safe when putting their lives in the hands of medical professionals. Consulting with an attorney when a problem is suspected may help to pursue appropriate compensation.

Source: Medscape, “OR Briefings Reduce Surgical Errors, Improve Outcomes,” Norra MacReady, July 11, 2014