Study highlights causes of surgical errors

People who live in Kentucky and who may be in need of undergoing a surgical procedure might feel a bit nervous or concerned about the prospect of a problem occurring during their operation. These concerns are not unfounded as medical errors have made major news headlines in recent years as contributing to a significant number of deaths in the United States every year. Some research has even indicated that only heart disease and cancer claim more lives annually.

A new study report reviewing the causes of some surgical errors has recently been published and highlights some areas for improvement. As explained by Becker's Hospital Review, the results investigated 188 errors identified as adverse events. Of those 188 adverse events, 106 were attributed to human error. That means the actions or inactions of medical staff played a role in 56% of the surgical mistakes reviewed as part of this study.

The biggest problems were associated with cognitive bias, poor attention or other cognitive factors, suggesting that health care professionals may benefit from training that focuses more closely on these areas. Previous training has emphasized teamwork, communication and hospital systems and these factors were identified as less frequently involved in the errors. Some of the errors resulted in patient death or other major complications which may indicate that training focused on specific skills or topics can be effective.

The study was conducted over the course of six months at three different hospitals, all of which are teaching facilities. The results were published in the JAMA Open Network this summer.



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