AORN Dedicated to Patient Safety; Publishes Guidelines to Reduce Medical Errors

DENVER -- The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) has read with concern news articles reporting the results of a recent study on medical mistakes. The articles reported that surgical teams accidentally leave clamps, sponges and other instruments inside about 1,500 patients nationwide each year. While the number of these errors is very small compared to the number of surgical procedures performed, it is, nevertheless, a critical safety issue.

AORN has a 50-year history of developing nationally recognized guidelines to support surgical patient safety. AORN is also intensely focused through its Patient Safety First initiative on making improvements to the surgical process that will increase patient safety.

According to the recent study that was published in the January 16, 2003 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, some of the errors involving retained objects occurred because the appropriate guidelines were not followed. AORN continues to work through its members to put these patient safety guidelines into practice and to make sure that surgical facilities are following AORN guidelines. Though facilities may follow AORN's guidelines, human error does come into play from time to time, and mistakes may happen.

AORN is committed to learning why these errors occur, and to developing new guidelines to guide and recommend changes in practices that will improve patient safety. AORN recently developed Safety Net, a voluntary reporting system to capture data about close calls and near misses in the surgical arena. The data collected from nurses and other health care providers will be analyzed to serve as a basis for the development of new guidelines and educational programs to improve patient safety.

Information about surgical close calls initially will be collected only via the Internet at . For more information about this resource, contact the AORN Patient Safety First Hotline at (866) 285-5209.

Providing safe patient care is a long-standing goal of AORN and the perioperative registered nurse. AORN member nurses are dedicated to patient safety and to supporting patients and their families throughout the surgical process. Their presence on the surgical team is the best insurance for safe, high-quality surgical care.

AORN is the professional organization of perioperative registered nurses that supports registered nurses in achieving optimal outcomes for patients undergoing operative and other invasive procedures. AORN is the global leader in promoting excellence in perioperative nursing practice. AORN is composed of approximately 41,000 perioperative registered nurses in the United States and abroad. Perioperative nurses are defined as "those who provide, manage, teach, and study the care of patients undergoing operative or other invasive procedures.

Source: AORN