A new study conducted by hospital safety researchers at Imperial College London found that post-surgical errors are common and more than half of these errors cause serious harm. The UK study was conducted for two years at a large gastro-intestinal surgery center.
One US doctor noted that the findings were shocking and must be addressed. “I think that’s simply astonishing and shocking in this day and age of patient safety protocols, and my main take home message from this study is that our current patient safety protocols do not keep our patients safe,” said Dr. Philip Stahel of Denver Health Medical Center, who was not involved in the study.
Stahel believes similar results are to be found in the large teaching hospitals in the United States as well.
The study monitored 50 surgical patients who underwent non-emergency digestive tract surgery. The average hospital stay was 11 days. The majority of the failures were considered “process failures” involving communication and assessment concerning patients.
“Failures had many causes but two of the most common and preventable were failures in communication between staff and delays in treatment or assessment,” said Charles Vincent, a professor at Imperial College London and one of the authors of the study.
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