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Wrong surgeries a product of poor communication

Communication failures such as poor handoff of critical information between surgical team members are the leading cause of surgeries involving the wrong patient, the wrong side, the wrong body part, the wrong implant or the wrong procedure. Poor communication was the cause of one in five adverse events reported to the Veterans Health Administration system from 2001 to 2006, according to a study published in November's Archives of Surgery ( Problems during the perioperative timeout process were a root cause of errors more than 15% of the time. The mistakes appeared to be rare, occurring once every 18,955 surgeries, although a definitive wrong surgery rate could not be established, because some errors go unreported, the study found. A total of 209 adverse events were reported, as were 314 "close calls" in which mistakes were caught before patients were harmed. Of the adverse events, 12% were serious enough to merit root cause ...

Needlestick injuries in med school common -- and often unreported

Medical students commonly stick themselves with needles and do not report it, placing them at increased risk for contracting bloodborne pathogens, according to a study in the December Academic Medicine ( Researchers surveyed 699 residents at 17 U.S. general surgery residency programs about needlestick injuries they received in medical school. Fifty-nine percent said they sustained at least one needlestick injury during medical school. Of those, 21% said their most recent injury occurred at school but nearly half did not report the incident. "I don't put the responsibility on students, because when I talk to them, I find that they choose not to report injuries because [they are discouraged] by the cumbersome internal reporting procedures," said Martin A. Makary, MD, MPH, a study author, associate professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and associate professor of health policy and management ...

Sharp spending hike seen for 10 costliest procedures

The number of dollars required to pay for each of the 10 most expensive hospital procedures grew at rates that far outpaced the increase in average yearly hospital care costs, according to a report issued Dec. 2 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality ( Experts say the growth in these numbers are most likely due to more people accessing these services and advancements in technology that have made the procedures more successful, albeit more costly. "We cannot just look at the cost of the procedure," said Elena Losina, PhD, associate professor of orthopedics at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "We need to know what that investment is buying. We still need to figure out how to pay for it, but the value should be assessed by the cost per quality-adjusted life years." Researchers analyzed inflation-adjusted data from the agency's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. The total cost of hospital care grew 6.3% from ...