The extended surgical time-out: does it improve quality and prevent wrong-site surgery?

Perm J. 2010 Spring;14(1):19-23. doi: 10.7812/TPP/10.997.


Purpose: To review the initial results of implementing an extended surgical time-out (STO) in pediatric surgery.

Methods: Starting in January 2006, all members of our surgical team implemented and used an extended STO, confirming the patient's identity, technical and anesthetic details, administered and available medications, and need for blood products and special equipment. To avoid disrupting work flow, the STO was initially after anesthesia induction. Starting in October 2007, the STO was done before anesthesia induction. Initial results, elapsed time to incision, and surgical team surveys were reviewed before and after implementing the preinduction STO.

Results: The elapsed time to incision was similar for elective and urgent operations before and after implementing the preinduction STO. All antibiotics were administered and confirmed during the STO. Four significant equipment findings were detected, altering the planned procedure (two before and two after implementing the preinduction STO). Operating room staff felt more confident and prepared for the operations because communication was improved. One near-miss occurred during the postinduction STO. One wrong-site operation occurred despite the preinduction STO, because of inadequate marking. Root-cause analysis demonstrated that this was due to a systems error.

Conclusions: Using the extended STO before anesthesia induction improved communication among the surgical team members and did not disrupt work flow. An extended STO may also have broader value, such as confirming timely antibiotic administration or meeting other quality measures. The extended STO did not eliminate wrong-site surgery. However, implementation of the STO placed the responsibility for wrong-site surgery with the whole team and system, rather than with the individual surgeon.