In surgery, the term “adverse event” refers to an action or event, intentional or not, that resulted in harm to a patient during the course of medical care. Infections, surgical complications and fatalities are all examples of surgical adverse events. These events occur frequently in hospitals and other health care settings across Pennsylvania and the United States, and they may lead to a range of serious, potentially life-threatening complications.
Per the Baylor College of Medicine, a 2019 study revealed just how common adverse events are during surgery in U.S. health care settings. The study also detailed what human errors contribute to adverse events.
Adverse event statistics
Each year, American health care providers perform an estimated 17 million surgeries. Adverse outcomes occur in about 5% of these surgeries, indicating that they impact about 400,000 patients a year. About half of all of those adverse events are the results of human errors.
Adverse event causes
Researchers involved in the study grouped adverse events caused by human errors into five specific categories. These categories involved errors relating to planning or problem-solving, execution, rules violations, communication or teamwork. More than half of the human errors that contributed to adverse events involved cognitive mistakes, such as health care workers failing to pay enough attention during procedures. Errors involving a lack of teamwork or communication were far less common. This suggests that today’s health care providers must do more to train their staff members and prevent cognitive errors in their practices.
The study results discussed herein were the result of a six-month review of three adult teaching hospitals and more than 5,300 surgeries.