Technology mishaps account for one-fourth of OR errors

Technology mishaps are the cause of almost 25 percent of operating room errors, according to a study published this week in BMJ Quality & Safety.

The configuration or settings of a device or machine caused problems in about 43 percent of cases, according to researchers, who retroactively reviewed 28 published studies on OR errors. For roughly one-third of cases, a device or machine wasn't working properly.

Failures of equipment/technology accounted for a median 23.5 percent of total error.

The study concluded that "procedures that rely more heavily on technology may bear a higher proportion of equipment-related error." The authors highly recommended using beneficial preoperative checklist-based systems, which they point out reduced equipment error by 48.6 percent. 

HealthDay News pointed out that four of the studies examined the severity of operating room errors, classifying one-fifth of errors as "major." Equipment failures accounted for 20 percent of those major errors, compared with 13 percent for technical failures and 8 percent for communication failures.

Preoperative checklists and anesthesia checklists are among 10 patient safety strategies hospitals are "strongly encouraged" to adopt, according to May research headed by RAND Corporation. Moreover, the newly released "Checklists to Improve Patient Safety" focuses on 10 quality improvement areas targeted by the federal government's hospital engagement networks (HEN).

To learn more:
- read the study abstract
- read the article in HealthDay News

Related Articles:
Infection rates drop 79% with hospital collaboration
HHS forms infection-fighting hospital engagement networks
10 strategies to improve patient safety
Surgical checklists improve care, reduce OR errors


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