230 Million…and counting

This morning on National Public Radio I heard a report on worldwide major surgeries…and concern for errors (I guess you might say ‘errors and omissions’ – they forget to do things). There are 230 million major surgeries worldwide each year – one in twenty five people have a ‘major’ operation.

The report went on to say that hospitals are now instituting new procedures called ‘time outs’ before any surgery to go over a checklist. Is this the right patient? What are we doing? Do we have the right tools and materials?…etc. I worked as a surgical technician back in college days and I remember all we ever did is check to make certain we had the right patient. No equipment check, no making certain everyone on the team knows one another, no check to make certain we had the right prosthesis. It was a very well known hospital in a large metropolitan area.

I bring this up because there are many days when I can’t understand why we don’t have better methods broadly in place to analyze environmental impacts – the tools are available, the scientific data exists, the knowledge is precise. Why don’t we do this?

When I heard the NPR report I was shocked. It has been almost forty years since I was a surgical tech….and it’s still possible you might have a major operation without a set protocol to make certain they ‘get it right’.