25 percent of surgical errors caused by technology problems

Today, robotic equipment and other technology has become a common presence in Pittsburgh operating rooms. It is now normal for a surgeon to operate from a video game-like console or use enhanced imaging technology to get a better look at the inside of a patient during surgery. While many people praised these advances — and rightfully so — a recent study shows this technology presents some new challenges in the operating room. 

The study, which was published in the BMJ Quality & Safety journal, showed that nearly 25 percent of all errors that occur during surgery have something to do with equipment failure. This was especially true when technology was a major part of an operation. While this may sound alarming when so many of today’s operations depend in part on technology, researchers said there are ways to reduce technological errors. 

One easy way to cut back on errors is to implement a preoperative checklist for physicians and medical staff to follow. The checklist would include testing equipment before surgery. Additionally, researchers suggested that hospitals ensure their doctors and staff are properly trained in working with the equipment that is used during surgery. When testing this solution, they found that surgical errors were cut in half.

Because technology in the operating room is here to stay, it is important that hospitals and surgical teams ensure that the equipment is functioning properly at all times. Malfunctioning technology can put a surgical patient in serious danger of injury or worse — something that no one wants.

Source: Huffington Post, “Technology Problems Behind 1 in 4 Surgery Errors, Study Finds,” Bahar Gholipour, July 26, 2013