Study: Human Factors Linked to More than Half of Surgical Errors

Posted in: Medical Malpractice | Aug 03,2019

There are several factors that can increase the risk of an error during a surgery, but a new study finds that human deficiencies or errors are linked to more than half of all surgical errors.

The study was conducted by Baylor College of Medicine. The investigators used their college’s weekly conferences during which doctors identify adverse outcomes and the possible causes for these outcomes, in order to derive their data. They collected data from three hospitals, and focused on more than 5,300 surgeries that had taken place during the study period.

The investigators were able to identify 188 adverse events that occurred during these surgeries. These events included a variety of scenarios, from infections and bleeding to hospital re-admissions, and even death.

On further analysis, the researchers found that out of the 188 cases that involved adverse events, as many as 106 cases involved human error. That means more than 50 percent of the errors were linked to human deficiencies.

The researchers classified these deficiencies as related to communication, team work, planning, execution and violation of rules. The study further found that half of the human deficiencies were related to cognitive factors like lack of attention and recognition and cognitive bias. The roles of communication and team work were much lower than expected, and this seems to indicate that initiatives taken to improve communication and team work in the operating room have been successful in minimizing the role of these factors in surgical errors.  The researchers also found that the findings were consistent across the hospitals they focused on, suggesting that the results are possibly replicated across settings.

A surgery can be a stressful experience for any patient. Sometimes, however, the experience turns out to be a traumatic one, and one that can actually affect the patient’s long-term health and safety. Surgical errors including wrong site infections, objects left behind after the surgery in the patient’s body, and wrong patient surgeries are horrifying situations, but by no means rare.

If you or a loved one have been injured as the result of a surgical error, discuss your case with an Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyer at Montross Miller. You may be eligible to file a claim for damages for your losses, and an attorney will help you understand your options.