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Miscount Incidents: A Novel Approach to Exploring Risk Factors for Unintentionally Retained Surgical Items

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Abstract:

Background: An estimated 1,500 operations result in retained surgical items (RSIs) each year in the United States, resulting in substantial morbidity. The rarity of these events makes studying them difficult, but miscount incidents may provide a window into understanding risk factors for RSIs.

Methods: A cohort study of all consecutive operative cases during a 12-month period was conducted at a large academic medical center to identify risk factors for surgical miscounts. A multidisciplinary electronic miscount reconciliation checklist (necessitating both surgeon and nurse input) was introduced into the internally developed electronic Perioperative Information Management System to build a predictive model for RSI cases.

Results: Among 23,955 operations, 84 resulted in miscount incidents (0.35% [95% confidence interval: 0.28% to 0.43%]). Increased case duration was strongly associated with increased risk of a miscount in unadjusted analyses (p < .0001). In the nested case-control analysis, both the case duration and the number of providers present were independently associated with a more than doubling of the odds of a miscount, even after adjustment for one another, the elective/urgent/emergent status of a case, and personnel changes occurring during the case.

Conclusions: The finding that both the length of the case and the number of providers involved in the case were independent risk factors for miscount incidents may offer insight into risk-targeted strategies to prevent RSIs, such as postoperative imaging, bar-coded surgical items, and radiofrequency technology. Miscounts trigger use of the Incorrect Count Safety Checklist, which can be used to determine whether a count completed at the procedure's conclusion is consistent across disciplines (circulating nurses, scrub persons, surgeons).

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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