Vance ME, Proctor T, Schmidt KA. AORN J. 2021;113:635-642.
The perioperative setting is a high-risk environment. This continuing education model discusses safety threats and evidence-based best practices to deliver nursing care in perioperative settings and promote a culture of safety.
This retrospective study of dental patient safety reports in the military health system demonstrated an increase in reported events, which may reflect improvements in safety culture. Wrong-site surgery was the most common adverse event, suggesting the need to enhance safety practices in dentistry.
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.
Deutsch ES, Yonash RA, Martin DE, et al. J Clin Anesth. 2018;46:101-111.
Wrong-site procedures are considered never events, yet they continue to occur. This review describes the incidence, impacts, and contributing factors of wrong-site nerve blocks. The authors recommend verifying the procedure and patient with multiple sources of information, using visible site markings, and employing time outs immediately prior to anesthetic use. A WebM&M commentary discussed an incident involving a wrong-site nerve block.
Wrong-patient and wrong-site surgeries are considered never events. This commentary describes a tool developed to decrease confusion in plastic surgery. The authors envision the tool to enhance team communication and preparation, which should reduce risk of wrong-site surgery.
Bathla S, Chadwick M, Nevins EJ, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e503-e508.
Wrong-site surgery represents a never event. In the United States, The Joint Commission requires marking of the surgical site prior to surgery as part of the Universal Protocol. Researchers conducted a survey study of 120 surgeons in the United Kingdom and found significant variation in adherence to the national mandate for preoperative surgical site-marking.
The Universal Protocol requires hospitals to adopt time outs as a strategy to prevent wrong-site surgeries. This commentary describes how one organization combined elements of time outs and the surgical safety checklist to augment communication and teamwork in surgical settings. Implementation of the enhanced time out involved targeted education and clarity around surgical roles and responsibilities.
Boston, MA: Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety and Medical Error Reduction; 2016.
Cataract surgery, one of the most common procedures in the United States, is vulnerable to wrong-site errors. This consensus report reviews the types of errors associated with cataract surgery and discusses evidence-based practices to reduce risks.
Despite efforts to prevent wrong-site surgeries, they continue to occur. This commentary discusses a near miss resulting from human factors and inadequate team communication to underscore the importance of reporting and analyzing incidents to enhance individual practice and teamwork.
This systematic review investigated root causes of wrong-site surgery and identified three vulnerabilities: transcription errors prior to surgery, intraoperative verification failures, and omitting steps in the verification process. The Universal Protocol does not mitigate these vulnerabilities, suggesting that further interventions are required to prevent wrong-site surgeries. A recent AHRQ WebM&M commentary provides an overview of wrong-site surgery and best practices to prevent it.
A man with suspected renal cell carcinoma seen on CT in the right kidney was transferred to another hospital for surgical management. The imaging was not sent with him, but hospital records, which incorrectly documented the tumor as being on the left side—were. The second hospital did not obtain repeat imaging, and the surgeon did not see the original CT prior to removing the wrong kidney.
Shah RK, Boss EF, Brereton J, et al. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2014;150:779-784.
This survey of otolaryngologists found very little overall progress in self-reported patient safety errors compared with a similar survey in 2004. For instance, wrong-site surgeries continue to occur despite garnering major attention over the past decade and being classified as a never event.
Collins SJ, Newhouse R, Porter J, et al. AORN J. 2014;100:65-79.e5.
Organizations including The Joint Commission, the World Health Organization, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have focused on improving surgical safety. Using Reason's Swiss cheese model, this review analyzes the evidence for surgical checklist implementation to determine its usefulness in preventing wrong-site surgery and recommends tactics to address weaknesses.
Alam M, Lee A, Ibrahimi OA, et al. JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150:550-8.
Excisional skin cancer surgery is a common procedure often performed many days after an initial biopsy by a different physician, making it particularly vulnerable to wrong-site surgery. This study provides a range of consensus recommendations for medical professionals and patients to reduce such risks.
Mehtsun WT, Ibrahim AM, Diener-West M, et al. Surgery. 2013;153:465-472.
More than a decade ago, stories of wrong site surgeries and retained surgical objects galvanized the patient safety movement. Despite public uproar and attention focused on these never events, such incidents continue to occur at alarming rates. This study found that surgeons make these mistakes more than 4000 times per year in the United States. Related malpractice payments have amounted to more than $1.3 billion over the last 20 years. Although this financial burden is substantial, it may pale in comparison to the degree of patient harm resulting from these preventable errors. An incident of wrong-site surgery is discussed in an AHRQ WebM&M commentary.
Deviations from the previously agreed upon perioperative care plan were associated with an increased risk of adverse events during surgery. Unplanned changes in surgical procedures have been previously associated with higher risk for retained surgical instruments.
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