Surgeons and surgical technologists do everything they can to make sure that operations go smoothly, but a new study shows that sometimes technology may be at fault for operating room errors.
According to LiveScience, approximately 15 errors occur during a typical operation, and nearly one-fourth of them are caused by equipment or technology problems. Researchers from Imperial College London came to this conclusion after carefully reviewing 28 published studies about operating room errors.1
This is important news for surgical technologists, who are generally responsible for preparing operating rooms for surgery. They also sterilize equipment, make sure there are adequate supplies, and assist surgeons and nurses during operations by passing them the instruments and sterile supplies that they need.2
According to the study, 37 percent of equipment failures during surgery resulted from a lack of availability of the equipment that was needed. In addition, issues with equipment settings and configuration occurred 44 percent of the time, and device malfunctioning was responsible for operation errors in one-third of the cases.3
Researchers found that there are important steps that can be taken to reduce the frequency of errors that occur in the operating room. For instance, equipment checks have been proven to be extremely helpful, and the researchers are advocating for these pre-surgery checks to become a routine practice.
“There is a clear benefit in the use of preoperative checklist-based systems, by which a large proportion of equipment-related error and overall error can be reduced,” the researchers explained.
The researchers also suggested that improved staff training programs and the use of briefing tools could further reduce the number of errors that occur during any given operation.
“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 failure,” the researchers wrote.
Surgical technologists can do their part to reduce the number of errors that occur in the operating room by double-checking the equipment that they set out for surgery, and by constantly learning and brushing up on the skills they gained in college to make sure that they are as knowledgeable as possible.
While surgical technologists may not be able to account for technology errors, they can make sure that surgeons and nurses always have the equipment that they need to perform operations so procedures go as smoothly as possible.
1 Gholipour, Bahar, LiveScience, ‘Technology Problems Behind 1 in 4 Surgery Errors, Study Finds,’ July 26, 2013 – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/26/surgery-errors-technology-problems-cause_n_3658734.html?utm_hp_ref=@healthnews123
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, ‘What Surgical Technologists Do,’ March 29, 2012 – http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/surgical-technologists.htm#tab-2
3 Barber Jr., PhD, Joe, Medscape, ‘Operating Room Errors: Equipment-Related Failures Common,’ July 25, 2013 – http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/808466