Tech Problems Cause Quarter of All Surgical Errors

Knee%20xray.jpgMalfunctioning of surgical equipment and technology contributes to as many as 25% of all surgical errors. That information comes from a new study which also finds that having a reliable checklist, can help reduce the risk of such malfunctioning.

The results of the new analysis were presented recently in the journal BMJ Quality and Safety. The research findings are based on a review of at least 28 earlier published studies on surgical errors, and found that issues like technology and equipment malfunctioning were cited in at least 15% of all medical malpractice claims resulting from these errors.

The researchers found an average rate of 2.4 errors per procedure, and out of these, technology and equipment-related issues accounted for 23.5% of the errors. In about 43% of the cases issues with configuration settings of the machine contributed to the error. In 37% of the cases, the availability of the device was the main reason for the error. In nearly one-third of the cases, the device was not functioning properly or malfunctioning.

A deeper analysis of the study found that the severity of the operating room errors differed. However, operating room errors related to tech issues often tended to be major errors. As many as one-fifth of the surgical errors were classified as major, and of these, technology malfunctioning and other related factors accounted for 20% of the errors. Technical failures accounted for 13%, while communication gaps accounted for 8% of the errors.
If the surgery relied very heavily on the use of technology, there was a much higher risk of surgical error.

The role of malfunctioning technology and equipment, wrong use of technology, and other technology-related concerns have not been specifically studied in depth, compared to other causes of surgical errors. However, you can expect these errors to increase as medical surgery becomes more advanced, and more technology is used to make procedures safer, more efficient, and more beneficial for the patient. That is unless hospitals and surgeons pay attention to recommendations by the researchers, who suggest that an advanced surgical checklist can help reduce the risk of such technology-related errors.

According to the review of the studies, using a checklist developed for equipment and technology before surgery could reduce the error rate by as much as 50%. Hospitals that use the surgical checklist developed by the World Health Organization should also make use of a specific equipment-related checklist, and include this in the more expansive surgical checklist. A thorough check of all devices and machines in the surgical group before operation can help reduce the risk of malfunctioning and improper configuration; and in the process save many Hoosier lives.

The Indiana medical malpractice lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy LLP represent persons injured as a result of medical negligence across Indiana.