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Combined approach to patient safety works best

Each year, some people are injured because of medical errors made during surgery. Health care facilities continually look for ways to decrease the surgical error rate, and they have largely tried to do so by implementing one of two main approaches.

In order to look at the effectiveness of the approaches, a team of researchers from Oxford University in England conducted several observational studies of surgical teams over a four-year period. They observed surgical teams who worked in facilities that focused on teamwork training as a way to reduce injury rates. They also looked at facilities that use an industrial quality control approach in which the facility removes high-risk steps. Finally, the researchers observed teams in facilities that use a combination of the two approaches.

The researchers found that facilities using the combination approach had much lower error rates than facilities using either of the two approaches alone. They found that those who worked in facilities that emphasized teamwork alone were more motivated to improve safety but were unable to change their work-related safety behavior. Those who worked in the industrial control facilities were able to make changes to their own work behavior, but they didn’t have the requisite motivation to do so. Staff in facilities using the combination approach showed greater ambition and a willingness to seek help when it was needed.

Surgical mistakes can cause serious injury or death to patients. The studies demonstrate that health care facilities should relook at their safety training programs and possibly try using a combined approach to help reduce the error rates. A person who is seriously injured following a surgical error may want to speak with a medical malpractice attorney to see how compensation can be sought for the resulting losses .