Technology failures significant in OR errors

A SYSTEMATIC review of studies related to errors or adverse events in the operating room (OR) has found that nearly a quarter are due to equipment or technology failures.

Researchers at Imperial College London conducted full-text reviews on 28 studies and found that equipment/technology errors accounted for a median 23.5 per cent of total errors in the OR.

In eight of the studies in the review it was possible to further categorise failures into equipment availability (37.3 per cent), configuration and settings (43.4 per cent) and direct malfunctioning (33.5 per cent).

The researchers found that those procedures relying more heavily on technology showed a higher proportion of equipment-related error. Checklists (or similar interventions) reduced equipment error by mean 48.6 per cent (and 60.7 per cent in three studies using specific equipment checklists).

The authors concluded: "There is clear benefit in the use of preoperative checklist-based systems. We propose the adoption of an equipment check, which may be incorporated into the current WHO checklist."

Surgical technology and operating-room safety failures: a systematic review of quantitative studies was published online in BMJ Quality and Safety.

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