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Study looks into causes of surgical error

It is no surprise that there is a connection between surgical error and patient injury or death. Multiple studies have confirmed this connection. Research continues to offer suggestions to mitigate the risk. But what if researchers are focused on the wrong risks?

A recent study suggests the issue involves more than the skill of the surgeon or the need to carefully account for all surgical tools before finalizing the procedure. Instead, the study suggests the issue we need to address is that of human performance deficiencies.

Study finds connection between human performance deficiencies and surgical error

Researchers with Baylor College of Medicine recently published the results of a study that dug into the causes of surgical error. According to the piece, over half of surgical errors from the study were the result of "human performance deficiencies." This translates to an estimated 400,000 preventable adverse events within the surgical setting every year.

The most common human performance deficiency noted within the study involved cognitive errors. Examples of cognitive errors found by the researchers included one surgeon distracted by a telephone call during the procedure and another involved a failure of radiologists to recognize a stylus clearly visible in reviewed images that later led to serious patient injury.

Researchers encourage proactive approach to mitigate the risk

The authors of the study encourage medical professionals to employ systems-based approaches to reduce the risk of errors that can lead to patient injury or death. Examples could include banning telephone calls from the operating room and implementing the use of checklists like those used within the aviation and aerospace industries. Safety checklists can help to increase the safety of surgical procedures by reducing the risk of human performance deficiencies.

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