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Time out to prevent operating room errors

On June 10 hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers around the country will observe National Time Out Day — acknowledging the need for medical professionals to take a "time out" to confirm the correct patient, correct procedure, correct surgical site and other important information before every operation or invasive procedure.

Such "time outs" are mandated by the Joint Commission Universal Protocol, which accredits and certifies health care organizations in the U.S. But despite that requirement it's likely that between 40 and 60 wrong-site surgeries occur every week in the U.S.

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Time Out Day was created by the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses in 2004 to raise awareness about the importance of requiring the entire surgical team to pause to communicate as a group before all invasive procedures and to confirm key information about the patient and procedure to help prevent errors.

Wrong patient, wrong site, wrong procedures are sentinel events — described by the Joint Commission as "an unexpected occurrence involving death or serious physical or psychological injury, or the risk thereof."

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To operating room nurses these are all tragedies. That is why as a operating room nurse I will commemorate National Time Out Day with this public commitment to my patients, their loved ones and the entire surgical community that I will always take time out for every patient, every time.

Joan Spear, Westminster

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