Surgical Errors Continue to Persist in High Numbers


The recent report published in the Archives of Surgery in October 2010 paints a grim picture regarding surgical errors. According to the report, there is a “persisting high frequency of surgical ‘never events,” or errors that are entirely preventable and should never occur, despite the fact that hospitals must abide by a universal protocol of procedures intended to prevent these types of mistakes. The universal protocol requires that three critical steps be performed prior to surgery: (1) a pre-procedure verification, (2) marking the correct surgical site, and (3) a “time-out” for the operating stuff just before the surgery.

Despite the procedures intended to safeguard against “never events,” researchers found 25 incidents of wrong-patient procedures and 107 incidents of wrong-site treatments over a six-year span. The report was based on data drawn from an insurance database in Colorado that included more than 27,000 adverse events self-reported by Colorado doctors between 2002 and 2008.

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