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Research compares approaches to reducing surgical errors

New York residents who undergo surgical procedures may be safer in the coming years thanks to a study conducted over four years by a team from Oxford University in England. The goal of the study was to determine which of the two most prevalent strategies for reducing operating room errors worked best, but they found that neither of them on their own was as effective as a combined approach. The research team from the august institution's Department of Surgical Sciences published their findings in the journal Annals of Surgery.

Hospitals have generally tried to reduce the number of surgical errors by focusing on either improving the communication between and teamwork of operating room staff or refining the systems used and procedures followed during surgeries. Improving team interaction has yielded positive results for the aviation industry, and streamlining operations is a standard quality control measure in many sectors.

The Oxford University team evaluated the progress achieved by hospitals that concentrated on improving the culture of surgeons and their support staff and those that focused on improving operating room efficiency, and they compared these results to the effectiveness of a combined approach. The researchers concluded that taking elements from both strategies provided patients with the best outcomes. The study found that the results of better training and heightened efficiency could not be fully realized unless doctors and nurses feel comfortable asking questions and seeking help.

While it may be relatively straightforward to demonstrate that errors occurred when surgery is performed on the wrong part of the patient's body, other types of surgical mistakes can be more difficult to identify. Surgeons may be reluctant to admit that errors occurred, and medical records are not always conclusive. In this type of situation, personal injury attorneys may seek guidance from experienced medical experts to analyze the sequence of events and identify the point where operating room staff deviated from the proper duty of care.

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