Patient Safety in the Operating Thesis

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O'Meara stresses that a system known as a Decision Support System of DSS can be integrated into existing it to identify potential errors that could be made on any given case and provide the staff with flags to help them avoid such errors. (December 2007, pp. 970-979) DSS technology can seriously improve the chances that patients will not receive inadequate care or that services and potential challenges to them get noted and flagged appropriately to alert nurses to ways in which common mistakes can be made. DSS systems could alert the nurse of patient allergies, noted mechanical checks, crosschecking medication administration and any number of things that support patient safety.

Conversely Giordano, stresses that patient safety, in spite of it and other technology now utilized for patient care is essentially the nurses responsibility, therefore it is absolutely essential that the nurse advocates for safety and does not rely so much upon technology that she or he reduces the needed physical checks and balances associated with patient safety. Giordano states:

Perioperative nurses must be diligent guardians of surgical patients' safety at all times because potential hazards exist not only with new technology (eg, interactive, image-guided, stereotactic neurosurgery systems) but also with familiar, standard equipment (eg, electrosurgical and laparoscopic units)....New technology is beneficial when it eliminates time-consuming manual tasks, reduces surgical time, and facilitates less-invasive surgical procedures. Misapplication or misuse of this technology, however, can result in needless patient injuries. Patient advocacy and control of the surgical environment are the responsibilities of perioperative nurses.
(February 1995, p. 314)

Giordano's point is well made, though supportive of technology she stresses that dependence on such technology does not do the patient much good if the peri-operative nurse relies so heavily on it that he or she does not continue with due diligence to protect the safety of the patient.


The defining characteristic of the operating room has been associated with a high standard of technology and innovation for some time. Integrating procedural technology with it has and will continue to greatly improve patient safety, as long as peri-operative nurses use technology as an aide, rather than a crutch and continue to advocate for the patient with standard procedural checks and balances, where they are needed. A DSS and integrated instant access to patient information is also a foundational aspect of applying just enough technology to get the job done as safely and efficiently as possible, the job being not only the procedure but the success of adhering to zero error tolerance policies in every one completed.


Cobb, D. (August 2004) Improving Patient Safety -- How Can Information Technology Help?

AORN Journal 80 (2) 295-302.

Giordano, B.P. (February 1995) High-tech health care is great, but our first duty is to do no harm. AORN Journal (61(2) 314.

Lewis, R.F. (2002) the Impact of Information Technology on Patient Safety. New York: Healthcare Information and Management Systems.

O'Meara E. (December 2007) the Effects of Electronic Documentation in the Ambulatory Surgery Setting. AORN Journal 86(6) 970-979.


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