Friday letters: Take time to avoid surgical errors

June 14, 2013 

On Wednesday, National Time Out Day was practiced in hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers around the country. Taking a “time out” to confirm correct patient, correct procedure, correct surgical site and other important information before every operative and other invasive procedure is a requirement for accrediting for health organizations by the Joint Commission. Despite the requirement, 40 to 60 wrong-site surgeries likely occur in the United States each week.

Time Out Day was created by the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses in 2004 to raise awareness about the importance of requiring the entire surgical team to pause before all invasive procedures to confirm key information about the patient and procedure to help prevent errors.

Wrong patient, wrong site and wrong procedures are sentinel events — described by the Joint Commission as unexpected occurrences “involving death or serious physical or psychological injury, or the risk thereof.” To perioperative nurses, they are tragedies. That is why as a perioperative nurse, I commemorated National Time Out Day with this public commitment to my patients, their loved ones and the entire surgical community: that I will always take time out for every patient, every time.

Ivonne Moore

Dalzell

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