Devices & Diagnostics

New British study: equipment-related failure could account for about a quarter of OR errors

Technology/equipment problems cause 23.5 percent of operating room errors, according to an analysis of evidence in BMJ Quality & Safety. Comparing 28 quantitative studies out of the more than 19,000 “suitable” pieces found in databases, the authors found “inability to use the technology/equipment, lack of availability, and faulty devices/machines made up the bulk of the problems,” […]

Technology/equipment problems cause 23.5 percent of operating room errors, according to an analysis of evidence in BMJ Quality & Safety.

Comparing 28 quantitative studies out of the more than 19,000 “suitable” pieces found in databases, the authors found “inability to use the technology/equipment, lack of availability, and faulty devices/machines made up the bulk of the problems,” and that surgeries relying more on technology or equipment were more likely (unsurprisingly) to have these kinds of errors.

The median number of equipment  was about an equipment problem per procedure.

The amount of equipment-related error in cardiac procedures is “universally higher” than other surgeries. And though a recent study at the Rhode Island Hospital shows the waning moon’s correlation to the mortality rates of heart surgeries, this study found a less mystical answer to, at least, limiting errors in cardiac ORs: checklists.

Though it may be a maligned buzz word here in the States for physicians, the authors suggest preoperative checklists would be an easy fix for these sorts of errors. The more specific to the equipment, the better.

“In three studies where the intervention was a checklist specifically including an equipment check, a mean reduction in equipment error of 60.7 percent (range 34.2 – 84.7 percent) was observed….

“Of the eight studies which examine the subtypes of equipment error, it is significant that 70 percent of equipment errors are attributable to equipment availability (32 percent) and configuration (38 percent). This would suggest that a large proportion of equipment-related error might be avoidable by adequate preoperative checks,” the report reads.

The authors propose that these equipment checks be adopted into the existing WHO checklist.