1 in 4 surgery errors due to technology problems

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© Squaredpixels High technology has made many types of surgery more precise and effective — and in some cases, far less invasive.But all this innovation also has created some problems.  Researchers say technology now accounts for about one in four operating room errors.   They say more complex surgeries that rely more heavily on high tech tend to have higher equipment error rates. See the entire study here at qualitysafety.bmj.com 

The research team reviewed data from 124 error studies and focused on 28 of them.  The researchers categorized equipment problems into three groups. The availability of equipment accounted for 37 percent of the errors, while problems with configuratio nand settings were responsible for 44 percent. Direct malfunctioning occurred in 33 percent.  Previous studies have shown that medical errors affect 13-16 percent of patients, with surgical procedures responsible for around half of these adverse events.

Related: Surgical robot scutinized by FDA after deaths and surgical errors

Performing equipment checks before surgeries, using briefing tools and conducting staff training programs reduced error rates by half, the study found. “There is clear benefit in the use of preoperative checklist-based systems, by which a large proportion of equipment-related error and overall error can be reduced,” the researchers said. They recommended that equipment checks become routine practice and be included in the current World Health Organization Surgical Safety Checklist.

 The increasing use of technology in all surgical specialties may also increase the complexity of the surgical process, and may represent an increasing propensity to error from equipment failure,” the researchers wrote in their study, published online in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety.

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