Posts Tagged "surgery"


When an airplane crashes, the rush is on to find the black box. This is a recording device that can help investigators piece together what happened to cause the accident. A similar device recently was developed for use in the operating room. The researchers behind the device hope it prevents medical malpractice and improves patient outcomes much in the same way it aids in airline safety and accident investigations.

Reducing the rate of surgical errors is an important cause. A 2012 study from Johns Hopkins University found that such mistakes, known as “never events”, happen at least 4,000 times each year. These mistakes include wrong site surgeries, performing the wrong procedure and leaving foreign objects behind in a patient. By helping medical professionals to understand why these seemingly simple mistakes happen, a black box could help surgeons reduce their occurrence.

Black Box Prototype Tested at Three Hospitals

HealthCanal.com reports that Dr. Teodor Grancharov, who specializes in minimally invasive surgical procedures, developed the box where he works at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Up to this point, the device has been tested at the facility and two additional hospitals in Denmark.

It is about the size of a cable box. The device records everything that goes on in the operating room much like a black box on an airplane records everything that goes on in the cockpit.

The device captures any video from scopes inserted into the body. It also captures the room temperature, patient vitals, decibel levels and conversations among different healthcare workers in the operating room.

For now, the device works only for minimally invasive procedures such as those using small laparoscopic incisions. However, the hope is that its use will be expanded to a wider range of surgical procedures.

The goal is to have a documented account of everything that takes place during a surgery. Understanding where errors happen can help doctors and hospitals prevent additional mistakes and develop training and education.

Dr. Grantcharov says that developers of the black box are looking for performance issues. For example, did a surgeon apply an incorrect technique during an operation? They are also looking at “less tangible” factors that can contribute to surgical errors such as miscommunication between members of the operating team.

In addition to providing surgeons and hospital officials with information on how to improve patient safety, such devices could give medical malpractice victims important evidence of negligence if a mistake results in serious personal harm.

Your Role in Preventing Surgical Errors

While the development of a black box for surgical procedures is a promising advance in patient safety, it may be a long time before such a device is widely used and its benefits are realized in terms of preventing surgical errors.

For now, if you are undergoing surgery, you can take steps to help protect yourself. The Joint Commission (pdf), an organization that accredits healthcare agencies and promotes patient safety, offers the following tips for patients:

  • Ask your doctor detailed questions about the surgery before it occurs.
  • Ask for detailed pre-op instructions regarding meals, water, medications, make-up, nail trimming and other preparations you should make before the day of surgery.
  • Write down any questions you may have as you prepare for surgery.
  • Bring someone you trust with you on your operation day and tell them your concerns as they will be your advocate if you are unable to speak or communicate.
  • Make sure all information on consent forms is correct before signing them. Ask questions if you have any before you sign the forms.
  • Make sure markings put on your body for the surgery are in the right place.
  • Ask your surgeon if the team will take a “time out” before your operation.

The outcome of a surgery may not be your responsibility but rather that of the surgeon and team attending to you. Still, speak up if you have questions and hold your healthcare providers accountable for any errors or problems you may experience.

Submitted by Powers & Santola, LLP

Read More
Ways to Prepare for Surgery

Ways to Prepare for Surgery


Posted By on Nov 18, 2013

prepare for surgerThe anticipation of surgery leads to feelings of anxiety that most certainly only add to the already stressful situation. Regardless of what kind of surgery will be performed, no one looks forward to it, or the post-operative recovery period. Fortunately, there are some things you can do for yourself prior to surgery that will go a long way in helping you get back on your feet sooner.

Plan Ahead

The most important thing you can do for yourself prior to having any surgical procedure, is to organize your life so that it’s easier on you once you get home. Here are a few items to put on your checklist.

  • Communicate: Discuss the surgery with your friends, family, spouse, and caregiver (if applicable). Line up the help you will need and make sure to thoroughly communicate your needs, the severity of the surgery, and the projected recovery period. Remember to include transportation to and from the hospital or clinic, as well as pet care, in the conversation.
  •  Home: Clean your home, seeking help, if needed, and arrange your furniture in a way that will most benefit your recovery. Remove obstacles from entryways, particularly the bathroom and kitchen, and make sure that loose rugs, wires and other things that are typically on the floor, are removed from your path. Take careful notice of the layout of your bathroom and kitchen. Place often used items, such as soap and dishes, in easier to reach places.
  •   Bills: Don’t forget about your finances, especially if your recovery is expected to be particularly long or challenging. If possible, pay your bills in advance. If you have concerns about falling behind on payments, call your creditors before you have surgery. That way, you can have peace of mind when you come home to recuperate.

All of these tips are aimed at helping you not only prepare for surgery, but also prepare for recovery. The easier you make it on yourself the quicker you will recover. Outside of organizing your friends and family, as well as your home and finances, there are many other things that you can do to help yourself prepare.Click here for an informative slideshow presented by WebMD. It offers valuable tips on preparing for surgery, as well as what to expect during and after surgery.

Anxiety

 Regardless of how well prepared you are before heading into surgery, you’ll likely experience some measure of anxiety. Here is a great resource from eHow.com about how to mentally and emotionally prepare for surgery.

The biggest question that can’t be answered, of course, is ‘will something go wrong?’ After all, you will be under anesthesia, and that’s a scary proposition for many people. While there is no way to ensure that nothing will go wrong, it’s critical that you know about the possibilities of anesthesia errors, if only to be informed. Education is one way to help alleviate your anxiety in that regard. Information on how anesthesia is administered, as well as potential errors related to its administration are available plentifully. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or anesthesiologist before the surgery.

Read More

Carol was under anesthesia during an eye operation when she woke up, suddenly, hearing the orders, “Cut deeper, pull harder” and felt pressure, but no pain.  Due to her anesthesia and a muscle relaxant, she was unable to communicate or move her body.  She was unable to signal to the doctors, in the operating room, that she was awake.  After having a successful surgery, Carol suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder due to the anesthesia complication and takes medication, in an attempt, to get past her terrifying surgical experience.

Going under the knife, for even the simplest of procedures, can be stressful and scary.  Even when you wholeheartedly trust your medical professional, it’s hard to avoid and ignore the “what ifs”.  According to the Mayo Health Clinic, Carol experienced “Anesthesia Awareness” and unfortunately, she is not alone.

Read More