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Study: Almost 25 percent of OR errors caused by technology mishaps

July 29, 2013
Healthcare Consulting By LW Consulting Inc.

The importance of healthcare IT consulting services cannot be underlined enough, especially as more hospitals are working toward full electronic medical record (EMR) integration. Doctors and nurses are not incapable of error, but it is essential that they receive comprehensive training on all new devices so the likelihood of a mistake happening is very small.

According to a study published last week in BMJ Quality and Safety, nearly one-quarter of all operating room errors are due to technology and equipment problems. Specifically, researchers reviewed 28 published studies on OR errors, and found that in 43 percent of those cases, the configuration or settings of a device or machine caused problems.

The study's authors explained that as technology is used more often in surgical specialties, it may also increase the complexity of the surgical process. Thus, it could also represent an "increasing propensity to error from equipment failure."

"Equipment-related failures form a substantial proportion of all error occurring in the OR," the report said in its conclusion. "Those procedures that rely more heavily on technology may bear a higher proportion of equipment-related error. There is clear benefit in the use of preoperative checklist-based systems."

Additionally, the authors recommended that checklist-based systems - such as an equipment check - are also adopted, in an effort to curb some of the errors that might occur. 

No medical facility can guarantee that mistakes will never happen, but by working with a hospital consultant who is well-trained in the latest health care IT innovations, they can work toward lessening their chance of taking place. When all staff members have a thorough understanding of new technologies, they can be sure to execute procedures properly and keep patients' safety a top priority.