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DENVER -- For the first time, nurses, surgeons and
accredited hospitals throughout the country are being required to adopt a
common set of operating room procedures in an effort to eliminate the alarming
number of deaths and injuries due to wrong-site, wrong procedure and wrong
Six national healthcare organizations and associations, led by the
Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), have joined together to
promote the adoption of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare
Organizations' Universal Protocol for preventing wrong site surgery errors in
U.S. operating rooms. To promote the new requirements, surgeons,
perioperative nurses, anesthesiologists and other members of the healthcare
team have declared June 23, 2004 National Time Out Day.
On July 1, 2004, all Joint Commission-accredited hospitals, ambulatory care and
office-based surgery facilities will be required to take a "time out" before a
surgery begins. The "time out" is a final step before a surgical procedure to
verify that the correct procedure will be performed on the correct patient.
According to the Institute of Medicine Nov. 1999 report, "To Err Is
Human," an estimated 44,000 to 98,000 Americans lose their lives due to
medical errors each year (from all procedures, not just surgeries). Untold
thousands more suffer injury or illness as a result of preventable errors.
National Time Out Day was created to increase awareness and generate
greater urgency for implementation of the Universal Protocol among the health
care community. The "time out" is one of several requirements of the
Universal Protocol that will apply to the more than 70 million surgeries
The National Time Out Day is one of many efforts underway to increase
patient safety and identify the cause of errors. It is significant because it
represents collaboration among nurses, physicians and health care executives
to reduce errors and improve care.
Besides AORN, the organizations promoting National Time Out Day are the
Joint Commission the American Hospital Association, the American College of
Surgeons, the American Society of Anesthesiologists, and the American Society
for Health care Risk Management. Approximately 50 healthcare associations
are endorsing the Universal Protocol. Beginning July 1, 2004, 4,579
accredited hospitals, 1,261 accredited ambulatory care facilities and 138
accredited office-based surgery centers will be implementing the Universal
"Having a standardized set of operating room guidelines will reduce
medical errors and is, therefore, of critical importance to the quality of
patient care in this country," said Bill Duffy, RN, BSN, MJ, CNOR, president
"AORN and our partners in the health care community have planned National
Time Out Day as a way to show the public that we are serious about patient
safety and are taking the necessary steps to reduce errors that can result in
preventable injuries and deaths," Duffy said.
AORN has created a special National Time Out Day Web site,
http://www.nationaltimeoutday.com, and distributed 55,000 tool kits to healthcare
professionals throughout the country to help facilitate that implementation.
Patients and their families are encouraged to have ongoing communication
with their health care providers about their medical care. Better
communication among patients, nurses and physicians is an important ingredient
to improve overall care.
AORN is the professional organization of perioperative registered nurses
whose mission is to support registered nurses in achieving optimal outcomes
for patients undergoing operative and other invasive procedures.
AORN promotes quality patient care by providing its members with
education, standards, services, and representation. AORN is composed of
40,000 perioperative registered nurses in approximately 6,700 hospitals and
3,500 ambulatory surgery centers in all 50 states and around the world. These
nurses work on the front lines, caring for patients from pre-surgery through
surgery and recovery, so no one is better qualified or has the capacity to
advocate for and ensure patient safety in the surgical setting.
Source: Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN)