Handbook for surgeons aims to reduce errors

Arkansas residents may have heard of people suffering from surgical errors such as wrong site surgery or of surgical sponges left behind in the body. A book based on research compiled at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland is aiming to reduce the frequency of these types of events by identifying a number of non-technical failures that lead to them. Such events may happen to as many as 12 percent of hospital patients.

The book identifies failures in communication, teamwork, decision making and situational awareness as among the types of skills that anesthesiologists, nurses and surgeons need to develop in order to better prevent these types of mistakes. The publication of this book is the first time that it has been available as a handbook for surgeons.

Researchers spent a dozen years in development and testing and also did workshops and presentations worldwide. They regard the handbook as useful not only for training but for professionals who wish to do self-assessment or to analyze why an error occurred.

People who have been harmed as a result of these types of surgical errors may wish to consult an attorney. If the error happened due to reasons such as inattentiveness or poor communication, medical malpractice may have occurred. A finding of medical malpractice will depend upon whether it can be established that the health care practitioner or the facility where the procedure took place failed to exercise the requisite standard of care. An attorney can make this determination after a review of the patient's medical records and discussions with medical experts.

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