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. 2015 Nov;97(8):608-12.
doi: 10.1308/rcsann.2015.0038.

Inconsistent Reporting of Minimally Invasive Surgery Errors

Free PMC article

Inconsistent Reporting of Minimally Invasive Surgery Errors

A D White et al. Ann R Coll Surg Engl. .
Free PMC article


Introduction: Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) is a complex task requiring dexterity and high level cognitive function. Unlike surgical 'never events', potentially important (and frequent) manual or cognitive slips ('technical errors') are underresearched. Little is known about the occurrence of routine errors in MIS, their relationship to patient outcome, and whether they are reported accurately and/or consistently.

Methods: An electronic survey was sent to all members of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, gathering demographic information, experience and reporting of MIS errors, and a rating of factors affecting error prevalence.

Results: Of 249 responses, 203 completed more than 80% of the questions regarding the surgery they had performed in the preceding 12 months. Of these, 47% reported a significant error in their own performance and 75% were aware of a colleague experiencing error. Technical skill, knowledge, situational awareness and decision making were all identified as particularly important for avoiding errors in MIS. Reporting of errors was variable: 15% did not necessarily report an intraoperative error to a patient while 50% did not consistently report at an institutional level. Critically, 12% of surgeons were unaware of the procedure for reporting a technical error and 59% felt guidance is needed. Overall, 40% believed a confidential reporting system would increase their likelihood of reporting an error.

Conclusion: These data indicate inconsistent reporting of operative errors, and highlight the need to better understand how and why technical errors occur in MIS. A confidential 'no blame' reporting system might help improve patient outcomes and avoid a closed culture that can undermine public confidence.

Keywords: Decision making; Laparoscopy; Medical errors; Minimally invasive surgery.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Important factors in surgery (survey question 2) arranged in order of perceived importance (Black = Very Important; Dark grey = Quite Important; Light Grey = Not Very Important; White = Very unimportant).

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