ACOG Releases Guidance on Surgical Errors

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media , August 25, 2010

Just as pilots maintain "sterile cockpits," a Federal Aviation Administration regulation requiring pilots to refrain from nonessential activities during critical parts of a flight, all members of the operating room team also should postpone nonessential conversation until surgery is finished, ACOG added.

In addition, "The presence of people in the operating room who are observing but aren't involved in the surgery should be evaluated for the value to the observer and balanced with the need to minimize distractions," said Patrice Weiss, MD, chair of the College's Committee on Patient Safety and Quality Improvement.

Another tool to enhance patient safety, ACOG said, is a checklist published by the World Health Organization (WHO). The checklist allows surgical teams to review various items and procedures before they administer anesthesia, before they make the first incision, and again before the patient is wheeled out of the operating room.

ACOG's revised patient safety recommendations should apply not only to hospitals, but also to surgeries performed in physicians' offices, freestanding surgical facilities, and surgicenters, Weiss added.

Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at

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