Course taster

Safer surgery 1

As our patients enter the perioperative environment, they will be met by a practitioner, who will carefully go through several questions to ensure they are the correct patient for the correct operation.

The National Patient Safety Agency issued a 'Safer practice notice' in November 2005 relating to 236 reports of missing wristbands or incorrect information on them. As we have a duty of care to the patient, it is crucial that we follow all correct and up-to-date procedures to ensure the risks are minimised.

Wristbands may be one part of our risk assessment with the patient; other factors such as allergies and correct site are considered on the World Health Organization (WHO) Surgical Safety Checklist. Practise your literature search techniques by navigating to the WHO website and searching for "safer surgery". You will be presented with a copy of the Surgical Safety Checklist and associated publications to support your practice.

According to the WHO:

surgery can be a life-saving or life-changing intervention in many conditions and the provision of surgical services is being increasingly recognized as a significant public health issue. A modeling study estimated that 234 million operations are carried out every year across the world. This translates to one operation for every 25 people and is more than the number of children born worldwide each year

The WHO safe surgery checklist contains the important steps to ensuring that each and every operation is performed correctly, reducing morbidity and mortality risks. Woodman and Walker (2016:2) stated:

In 2002 the World Health Assembly urged countries to improve the safety of health care and monitoring systems. They requested that the WHO set global standards of care and provided support for countries to improve patient safety. As a result, WHO Patient Safety was formed, and focussed its energy on campaigns named Global Patient Safety Challenges. Following their first challenge, 'Clean Care is Safer Care', WHO launched 'Safe Surgery Saves Lives' and led by Professor Atul Gawande, published WHO Guidelines for Safe Surgery. This set out 10 essential objectives for safe surgery from which the Surgical Safety Checklist was derived.

The aim of this 'WHO checklist' was to give teams a simple, efficient set of priority checks to improve effective teamwork and communication and encourage active consideration of patient safety for every operation performed. WHO also wanted to ensure consistency in patient safety in surgery and introduce (or maintain) a culture that values patient safety.

Watch the video below to observe the WHO checklist being applied in the United States of America:

Your surgery journey - the operating room (AHSChannel 2015)

View Your surgery journey - the operating room (AHSChannel 2015) video transcript

Video embed-

In the video, the narrative discusses the importance of asking the two questions below, followed by other information found on the Surgical Safety Checklist.