Abraham P, Augey L, Duclos A, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e615-e621.
Patient misidentification errors are common and potentially catastrophic. Patient identification incidents reported in one hospital were examined to identify errors and contributory factors. Of the 293 reported incidents, the most common errors were missing wristbands, wrong charts or notes in files, administrative issues, and wrong labeling. The most frequent contributory factors include absence of patient identity control, patient transfer, and emergency context.
The Joint Commission and National Quality Forum both consider wrong-site, wrong-procedure, and wrong-patient surgeries to be never events. Despite improvement approaches ranging from the Universal Protocol to nonpayment for the procedures themselves and any consequent care, these serious surgical errors continue to occur. This study measured the incidence of incorrect surgeries in Veterans Health Administration medical centers from 2010 to 2017. Surgical patient safety events resulting in harm were rare and declined by more than two-thirds from 2000 to 2017. Dentistry, ophthalmology, and neurosurgery had the highest incidence of in–operating room adverse events. Root cause analysis revealed that 29% of events could have been prevented with a correctly performed time-out. A WebM&M commentary examined an incident involving a wrong-side surgery.
Wrong-site, wrong-procedure, and wrong-patient errors are surgical never events. This commentary describes a structured communication practice requirement designed to address the problem. The author outlines elements of the protocol and reviews implementation strategies.
Shah RK, Arjmand E, Roberson DW, et al. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2011;137:69-73.
This study surveyed clinicians and discovered significant variation in their time-out and site-marking procedures in daily practice. The authors highlight the dynamic tension between national regulations and local interpretations of such policies.
Ring DC, Herndon JH, Meyer GS. N Engl J Med. 2010;363:1950-7.
The Case Records of the Massachusetts General Hospital are one of the most hallowed traditions in the medical literature, having been published weekly in the New England Journal of Medicine for more than a century. In contrast to the usual clinical focus, this article discusses a never event—a case of a patient who underwent the wrong surgical procedure. Presented by the surgeon himself, the article details the factors that led to the error, including production pressures, language barriers, and failure to perform a time out, and explores the ramifications of the error for the surgeon, the patient, and the institution.
Neily J, Mills PD, Eldridge N, et al. Arch Surg. 2009;144:1028-34.
Wrong-patient and wrong-site surgeries are considered never events, as they are devastating errors that arise from serious underlying safety problems. This study used Veterans Administration data to analyze the broader concept of "incorrect" surgical procedures, including near misses and errors in procedures performed outside the operating room (for example, in interventional radiology). Root cause analysis was used to identify underlying safety problems. Errors occurred in virtually all specialties that perform procedures. The authors found that many cases could be attributed in part to poor communication that may not have been addressed by preoperative time-outs; for example, several cases in which surgical implants were unavailable would have required communication well before the day of surgery. The authors argue for teamwork training based on crew resource management principles to address these serious errors.
Simon JW, Ngo Y, Khan S, et al. Arch Ophthalmol. 2007;125:1515-22.
This retrospective study reviewed more than 100 cases to characterize common sources of confusion in ophthalmology care. The most common adverse events included wrong lens implants and wrong eye operations, and the authors predict that 85% would have been prevented with use of the Universal Protocol.
Michaels RK, Makary MA, Dahab Y, et al. Ann Surg. 2007;245:526-32.
Wrong site operations are rare and often occur when systems to prevent them fail. This study reviewed existing prevention strategies, such as the Joint Commission's Universal Protocol, to develop a framework for hospitals to assess their wrong site event prevention efforts. The proposed framework asks whether a behaviorally specific policy has been enacted and whether staff understand the policy, and goes on to recommend directly observing the policy being put into practice. The authors advocate standardized interventions utilizing effective methods to measure safety. A previous Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) WebM&M commentary discusses factors that place patients at risk for wrong site surgery.
Makary MA, Epstein J, Pronovost PJ, et al. Surgery. 2007;141:450-5.
This study examined more than 21,000 surgical specimens and estimated a surgical specimen identification error rate of 4.3 per 1000 specimens. Error rates were higher for specimens associated with a biopsy procedure and the outpatient setting. The authors point out that specimen mislabeling represents one type of communication error and that certain strategies may prevent these events. The Joint Commission has addressed specimen labeling in their National Patient Safety Goals; the ability of hospital systems to prevent these errors may serve as a marker of quality and safety.
This guidance statement outlines recommendations from the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) for developing, implementing, and evaluating safe medication practices in the perioperative environment.
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