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New handbook for surgeons could make surgery safer

It has been estimated that as many as 12 percent of patients have adverse events in hospitals, and about 50 percent are surgery-related incidents. Ohio patients should know that an adverse event could involve preventable infection, wrong-site surgery, drug mistakes, instruments or swabs left in the body, and it could prove fatal. Non-technical facets such as poor teamwork or cognitive error are frequently the cause of these events.

In light of the increasing concern about these incidents, researchers from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland pinpointed the surgical team's non-technical skills and developed a rating system for their behavior. After 12 years of developing and testing a system with the collaboration of surgeons, scrub nurses and anesthesiologists at hospitals around the world, the researchers have released a handbook to improve the rate of adverse events through the behaviors of the medical staff.

The handbook reinforces the importance of situational awareness, decision making and communication among the surgical team. The handbook's co-editor says that the rate of never events shows that the surgical room is susceptible to the non-technical skills of clinicians, which can cause harm to patients. The book, she explains, is centered on doctors who perform surgery and why their non-technical skills are essential for effective, safe performance.

The university's retired pediatric surgery professor comments that medical staff will benefit from having an explanation of the system that the researchers developed and how to implement it for self-reflection, assessment, event analysis and training. The book reviews global safety initiatives, human error and performance limitations in surgery as well.

There is an inherent risk related to undergoing surgery, but patients expect surgeons, nurses and other surgical staff to be attentive while they are in the operating room. When a patient is harmed because of a surgical error, a medical malpractice attorney might be of assistance in pursuing appropriate compensation.

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