-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
WEDNESDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- The number of surgical
errors at VA medical centers is on the decline, a new study
In reviewing adverse events and close calls in these operating
rooms over a three-year period, researchers report in the July 15
issue of the
Archives of Surgery that possible reasons for the drop were a
greater emphasis on safety, as well as improved training and
Although the estimated number of errors at VHA medical centers
varies by location since each may have different methods for
defining an adverse event, researchers from the VA scoured a
national database to identify mistakes occurring between 2006 and
2009 and code them into various categories, such as type, body part
The study showed that about half of the adverse events took
place in the operating room, but their severity, on average,
decreased. The researchers found the number of monthly adverse
events per month dropped to 2.4 from 3.21 in a previous study. The
rate of "highest harm" adverse events also fell by 14 percent each
year. Close calls, however, increased from 1.97 reports per month
Researchers also found that reports of surgeons operating on the
wrong body part ranged between 0.09 per 10,000 patients in some
locations to 4.5 per 10,000 patients -- a 50-fold difference.
Although the authors found 204 root causes that contributed to
the errors, the most common reason for mistakes was a lack of
standardization of clinical processes.
The authors noted their findings should benefit those involved
in procedures at these facilities.
"Despite the overall decrease in patient harm, opportunities exist to further decrease the number of incorrect surgical and invasive procedures," the study's authors said in a news release from the journal. "We must continue to improve."
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides more
information on veteran's
health and wellness.
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