AORN and the Joint Commission Recognize National Time Out Day

In a letter sent today by email to hospital and ASC leadership, the Joint Commissions president, Mark R. Chassin, MD, FACP, MPP, MPH, and AORNs executive director/CEO Linda K. Groah, MSN, RN, CNOR, NEA-BC, FAAN, urged facility administrators to use National Time Out Day as an opportunity to focus on the prevention of wrong-site surgeries. National Time Out Day, this year on June 13, is an annual awareness campaign that was initiated by AORN in 2004 to remind surgical team members to conduct a time out for every patient, every time.

Surgery time out confirms site, patient and procedure. It is the time when the entire surgical team pauses to confirm and agree that the appropriate surgery is about to be performed. According to the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare although reporting is not mandatory in most states, some estimates put the national incidence rate, which includes wrong patient, wrong procedure, wrong site, and wrong side surgeries, as high as 40 per week. The data illustrates the important role perioperative nurses can play in speaking up for the patient and promoting safety checks to catch errors before they happen.

An effective and well-executed time out is an important part of what should be a multi-layered defense against wrong-site surgery, wrote Chassin and Groah. We know that a time out without full participation by all key people in the operating room increases the risk of wrong-site surgery, but tackling other contributing factors that increase the risk for wrong-site surgery is equally important. The letter encouraged commitment to effective and well-executed time out as an important part of a multi-layered defense against wrong-site surgery.

With the support of the Joint Commission and the World Health Organization, AORN provides several online tools and resources to support their members role as time out champions. Also available online are the Joint Commissions Universal Protocol and Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare Targeted Solutions Tool for Wrong Site Surgery.

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