What Causes Most Cardiac Surgical Errors?

disruptive behavior.jpgHeart surgeons are extremely skilled. However, evidence indicates a lack of communication and teamwork within operating teams, rather than skill, is responsible for most preventable surgical errors.

Numerous Studies Say Bad Teamwork Leads to Bad Surgical Outcomes

In 2013, the American Heart Association published a “scientific statement” in its publication titled, Circulation, with this conclusion. It cites several other studies, including:

• A 2006 study that found 17.4 teamwork malfunctions per hour and a 2007 study that found 11 teamwork disruptions per hour – both in cardiac surgery

• A 2006 research effort in which 85 percent of surgeons reported either high or very high team communication, while only 48 percent of their nurses said the same

• A study published in 2009 in The American Journal of Surgery that concluded the chances for a patient to suffer a major injury or death are more likely when surgical teams don’t exhibit good teamwork, such as communication

• A report by The Joint Commission that stated communication failures accounted for 65 percent of bad patient outcomes in surgery, medication errors, and other medical events it reviewed between 2004 and 2012

Now a new study further confirms this conclusion.

In an interview recently posted on medicalresearch.com, researchers connected with Johns Hopkins in Baltimore found a disconnect within cardiac surgical teams in terms of patient safety.

Heart Surgery Miscommunication

They reported that while most cardiac surgeons in their study consistently valued patient safety highly, other members of their teams, such as anesthesiologists, did not. They found many anesthesiologists were less concerned with communication errors than the rest of their team members.

They suggest that healthcare providers who work on improving communication across cardiac surgical teams will bolster an overall better safety culture. And a better safety culture will help prevent catastrophic medical errors.

Pinpointing what went wrong and why during surgery can be daunting. So if you were seriously injured during an operation or had a family member die from what you suspect was a surgical mistake, an attorney who handles matters of surgical error can conduct an investigation to identify the responsible parties and hold them accountable.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.