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Younger surgeons more distracted, make errors during surgery

Distractions have started to impact hospital safety in Ohio and patients should be aware of the potential risks of having surgery, especially when younger surgeons are involved. This warning comes from a new study which found that younger, less-experienced surgeons were more likely to commit surgical errors.

The study done by Oregon State University and the Oregon Health and Science University analyzed common distractions during surgery and the impact it had on newer surgeons. Researchers used a simulated laparoscopic cholecystectomy and had the surgeons be distracted by noises, questions, conversations and other distractions common in operating rooms.

The study found that 44 percent of the surgeons made serious errors when distractions were present compared to only 1 surgeon making an error when there were no distractions in the operating room.

The study involved young surgeons, ages 27 to 35, who were trying to perform a common surgery. During the simulated surgical procedure, researchers had a cellphone ring and a metal tray loudly drop on the floor. They also had other people in the operating room ask questions about a different surgical patient. Later, researchers had someone off to the side start talking about politics.

Interrupting questions caused surgeons to make the most serious types of errors, which included damage to internal organs, ducts and arteries. Sidebar conversations in the operating room were the second-highest reasons surgeons made serious errors during surgery.

The study was trying to discover what human factors led to surgical errors, what approaches or technological systems may contribute to errors and improvements that can b made in the future.

Source: Outpatient Surgery, "Younger Surgeons More Prone to Mistakes Due to Distractions," Dec. 4, 2012

Our law firm helps patients and their families who have been victims of surgical errors and mistakes. Please visit our Cincinnati medical malpractice page to learn more about our law firm.

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