Sunday, July 13, 2008

Safe Surgery Saves Lives

Safe Surgery Saves Lives is a check list introduced by the World Health Organization (WHO), which partnered with the World Alliance for Patient Safety (WAPS) to develop the “Safe Surgery Saves Lives” initiative. See You Tube Video here. This checklist is for surgical teams to improve surgical safety, reduce medical errors and reduce death during surgery around the world.

Although my personal, nor business budget would have allowed me to participate in the event in Washington DC to introduce this new initiative, I can’t say that I am disappointed that I couldn’t attend. Don’t get me wrong, I am deeply in support of anything that makes health care safer, but something about this bothers me. Maybe someone will comment and help me understand this better.

This new initiative means healthcare workers are given more suggestions for making surgery safer. Not considered regulation, but instead tools to work with. This, on top of the many, many regulations, standards and policies just seems like another way that the already well funded people in medicine are getting more funding to put together more initiatives to overlap the already non-working initiatives.

Do I sound annoyed? Probably. If this is not regulation, than why have it? Regulations are often not followed anyway or we wouldn’t be in this mess already. We have plenty of initiatives already like SCIP. I’m still struggling to figure out why doctors (at least many who I and my associates have used) still don’t wash their hands!

The Joint Commission has fine patient safety standards that can be followed which include marking the site of surgery and checking who the patient is before the surgeon cuts them open. Yet there are still too many reports of “wrong” surgical procedures. About ten every month are reported to The Joint Commission.

Healthcare organizations don’t even need to be accredited by the Joint Commission to practice the JC standards. They just need to do it. I’m not trying to be negative, again, I am always happy about new ideas that can make patient care safer, but something about the hoopla that goes with this just doesn’t seem to fit. I can’t get excited anymore.

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