3 ways to make your OR safer

American Anesthesiology says it has found the secret to turning any operating room into a high reliability organization (HRO) focused on safety.

The steps, recounted in an article in Becker's Infection Control and Clinical Quality, include:

  1. Empower champions to advocate for patient safety. Train those champions in leadership development and change management and give them hands-on practice in advocacy.

  2. Have the advocates train the rest of the OR team in developing a safety-first culture in which team members are not penalized for speaking up on safety.

  3. Give the OR team the right tools to improve safety. Examples cited included an app in which safety concerns can be reported electronically, and a checklist used when handing off a patient to post-operative care.

American Anesthesiology, a division of MEDNAX, plans to roll out its HRO Patient Safety Initiative at about one-third of its 29 anesthesiology practices by the end of the year, according to the article.

The stakes are high. A study published last year in the Journal of Patient Safety found that medical errors lead to the deaths of as many as 400,000 patients per year--much higher than the 98,000 estimated by the 1999 Institute of Medicine report "To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System."

Other approaches to improving OR safety include a black box that identifies when errors occur during surgery. The black box films the procedures and records conversations and metrics of the OR environment, providing a record that can help identify how errors lead to adverse event, researchers said. Communication is key as well, with researchers finding that thorough OR briefings and debriefings that include a discussion of relevant information about the procedure can improve outcomes.

For more information:
-here's the Becker's article