Study: Pre-op briefing can lower surgical errors

A study conducted by Johns Hopkins among its own surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses has reached a fairly intuitive conclusion-that a brief pre-operation meeting between surgical team members can lower the number of wrong-person and wrong-site surgeries. In June 2006, Hopkins Hospital implemented a JCAHO policy requiring hospitals to have a pre-surgical conversation in the OR before each and every surgery. In their version, surgical team members hold a two-minute meeting in which all OR team members state their name and role, after which the lead surgeon verifies a patient's identity, surgical site and related safety issues. The meeting takes place before anesthesia or incision takes place.

Johns Hopkins surgeon Martin Makary, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Surgical Outcomes Research, then studied the effect of implementing the policy. The study, which will appear in the February issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, concluded that team meetings had a positive effect on team morale and perception of safety, if nothing else. A survey given to 147 surgeons, 59 anesthesiologists, 187 nurses and other OR staff members found that 90 percent felt that the new briefings were important and could impact on patient safety.

To get more background on the study:
- read the Johns Hopkins press release on the study results
- review the United Press International article on the study