-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) -- About one-fourth of
operating room errors are caused by technology and equipment
problems, but a preoperative surgical checklist could halve the
error rate, a new study says.
Researchers reviewed 28 published studies on operating room
errors and found that technology/equipment issues were cited in
about 15 percent of malpractice claims. An average of 2.4 errors
occurred in each procedure, and technology/equipment issues
accounted for 23.5 percent of these errors.
Eight studies listed the different types of technology/equipment
errors. The configuration or settings of a device/machine caused
problems in about 43 percent of cases, availability of a
device/machine was an issue in about 37 percent of cases, and the
device/machine wasn't working properly in nearly a third of
Four studies examined the severity of operating room errors and
classified one-fifth of errors as "major." Equipment failures
accounted for 20 percent of these major errors, compared with 13
percent for technical failures and 8 percent for communication.
The type and rate of equipment failures varied widely, depending
on the study and the type of surgery. But overall, surgery that
relied heavily on technology had higher rates of problems,
according to the findings, published online July 25 in the journal
BMJ Quality & Safety.
Three studies found that using an equipment/technology checklist
before surgery could halve the error rate, according to a journal
news release. Review authors Colin Bicknell, of Imperial College
London, and colleagues recommended that a generic equipment
checklist should become routine practice and be included in the
current World Health Organization Surgical Safety Checklist.
While technological advances have improved the quality of
surgery and patients' chances of survival, the authors cautioned:
"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
Previous research suggests that medical errors affect up to 16
percent of hospital patients and that about half of these errors
are associated with surgery, according to the news release.
The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has more
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