OR Nurses Ask for Time Out to Reduce Surgical Errors


The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) is drawing on its ability to influence patient safety practices in the OR with the national launch of a “Time Out Commitment” campaign.

The new year-round campaign begins on National Time Out Day, June 16, and is designed to increase awareness of and compliance to taking a time for every patient, every time before the start of a surgical procedure. Time out allows the entire surgical team to verify the correct person, procedure, and site. Due to the size of its membership, AORN expects the Time Out Commitment campaign to reduce the risk of surgical errors in thousands of hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers across the United States.

Despite efforts to address errors such as wrong site surgery, The Joint Commission’s latest update to its sentinel event statistics indicates that wrong-site surgery is still the most common sentinel event reported. Between January and March of 2010, 18 wrong-site surgeries were reported to The Joint Commission. These numbers illustrate the important role perioperative nurses can play in speaking up for the patient and promoting safety checks to catch errors before they happen.

AORN, with more than 40,000 OR nurse members, believes a campaign that emphasizes commitment will inspire awareness, collaboration and compliance throughout the operating room.

“Every member of the surgical team has unique responsibilities as they prepare patients for surgery,” said Linda Groah, RN, MSN, CNOR, NEA-BC, FAAN, the Association’s executive director and CEO. “We believe that by starting an ongoing time out campaign with our members, and by providing them with education and awareness tools for the entire team, pre-op practices and surgical outcomes will improve.”

With the support of the World Health Organization and The Joint Commission, AORN has assembled several tools and provided new online resources to support their members as time out champions. In addition to a downloadable poster that proclaims, “I Commit to Time Out for Every Patient, Every Time,” the Association has created an online sign-up where OR professionals can publicly support the campaign by adding their names and the names of their facilities. The WHO’s surgical checklist, The Joint Commission’s Universal Protocol and the AORN Comprehensive Surgical Checklist are also available free online as well as videos that demonstrate the time out procedure.

In addition to providing online time out education resources, AORN has initiated an OR professionals’ discussion group on OR Nurse Link, the association’s online community. The discussion, led by AORN president Charlotte Guglielmi, RN, BSN, MA, CNOR, perioperative nurse specialist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, will help facilitate time out conversations in ORs across the country, and open up new communications channels to share best practices. “Some of the participants will be there to learn while others will be sharing their experience and stories of successful practices,” said Guglielmi. “This forum will inform surgical teams about exactly what needs to be done to achieve time out for every patient, every time.”



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