Today's News / Health

Time-out designed to avoid surgical mistakes being largely ignored

Procedure meant to avoid performing wrong procedures or on wrong sites

February 15, 2013
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+

surgeryA “time-out” intended to eliminate mistakes during surgery is not being complied with by a significant number of medical personnel, according to a new study.

Methodology and Bias in Assessing Compliance with a Surgical Safety Checklist,” published in the February issue of Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, found that although surgical safety checklists -- which include a perioperative time-out -- have been shown to improve performance on a variety of patient safety measures, some of the items on it are being skipped.

The checklist protocol was created in 2003 by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) in direct response to the ongoing incidence of wrong-site, wrong-procedure, and wrong-patient surgeries. It became required in 2004 for all healthcare organizations accredited by the Joint Commission.

For the study, time-out compliance of each of the 11 standardized items of the time-out was observed at an academic medical center. Methods: A total of 193 time-out procedures were observed, 48 by medical students and 145 by nurses.

The results? One item (procedure to be performed) achieved a 95% compliance rate. Three items (surgical site; availability of necessary blood products, implants, devices; and start of antibiotics) achieved 80%-95% compliance. Seven items achieved 80% compliance (presence of required members of procedure team, presence of person who marked patient, patient identity, side marking, relevant images, allergies, and discussion of relevant special considerations).

However, compliance with the four core time-out items was only 78.2%.

The study’s authors concluded that the low compliance of the time-out requirement called patient safety into question.

“Measures must be taken by large hospitals to regularly audit time-out compliance and create effective programming to improve performance,” according to the authors.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to ISHN.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Marc Alec
April 17, 2014
I don't see why the surgeons wouldn't comply with the time-out designed to avoid surgical mistakes, after all the patient is the one at risk. Thank God this was not the case during my own surgical procedure, the professionals I've found on made sure to explain every surgery step to me and it really was risk free.


Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn



Image Galleries

ASSE's Safety 2013 Review

A photo gallery from the Las Vegas Convention Center, where ASSE’s annual professional development conference was held June 24 to 27. All photos courtesy of the American Society of Safety Engineers.


ISHN Magazine

ishn april 2014 issue cover

2014 April

In this month's issue of ISHN, check out features about safety in the oil and gas industry.

Table Of Contents Subscribe


M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

More Products

For Distributors Only - January 2014

ISHN0114_FDO_cov.jpgFor Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. CHECK OUT THEJANUAYR 2014 ISSUE OF FDO HERE

ishn infographics

2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.