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Detailed checklists, error tracking could reduce surgical error

When a Houston resident needs to have surgery, it can be a stressful situation. All operations carry risk, but an error caused by a surgeon may be the result of negligence. The training a surgeon receives is important in making sure they don't make negligent surgical errors.

A study recently done at a leading medical school shows that having checklists of steps that need to be completed and tracking errors in surgeons who are in training can lead to better quality surgeons. A checklist is a good way to evaluate whether a surgical resident has good technical skills. The study used the Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skills checklist. The surgical residents received a point for successfully completing each step in order and a zero if they went out of order or made a mistake. They also used a Global Rating Scale that provides feedback on whether they used surgical instruments correctly, if they had a broad understanding of the procedure they were performing and other holistic areas. The third evaluation procedure was a simple pass-fail based on whether they performed an egregious error, such as severing a nerve or blood vessel.

The training a surgeon receives is critical in making sure they are able to offer their patients high-quality, expert care. Patients who are victims of an unexpected surgical error, such as organ damage, bowel injury and other serious mistakes can feel angry and disappointed in their surgeon. If a family believes their loved one was the victim of a surgical error, they may want to speak with a legal professional skilled in medical malpractice.

Victims of surgical errors can suffer from years of pain and suffering and even death. It is important that surgeons receive the best training possible but if they make a mistake, that they are held responsible.

Source: HealthLeaders Media, "Beyond checklists, a better way to assess surgical skill," July 5, 2016

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