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home : opinion : opinion July 18, 2019

6/12/2019 10:16:00 PM
National Time Out Day

Brenda Burk, Director of Surgical Services
Lake Norman Regional Medical Center


For a surgical patient and their family members and friends, a wrong-patient, wrong-site, or wrong-procedure surgery can be life-altering. As a perioperative nurse, whose role is to be the advocate for the patient, I am committed to reducing surgical errors and improving patient outcomes by taking a meaningful time out before each surgery – for every patient, every time.

The Joint Commission, the  non-profit group that administers voluntary accreditation programs for hospitals and other healthcareorganizations, requires surgical teams to take a “time out” before operative and other invasive procedures so that surgical team members can confirm the correct patient is in the room and the team is prepared for the right procedure.

Despite this requirement, the Joint Commission estimates wrong-site surgeries occur 40 to 60 times each week. Of the tens of millions of surgeries performed in the United States every year, it’s a rare occurrence – but because it’s preventable, it should never happen.

That’s why, on National Time Out Day, hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers around the country are reminded to evaluate the quality of their operating rooms’ time out process. Time Out Day was established 15 years ago by the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) to support the protocol and build greater awareness for this crucial safety measure among surgical team members.

As a proud member of AORN committed to safe surgery together, I want to remind my colleagues in the OR to reaffirm our pledge to provide each surgical patient a focused time out, with the full and undivided attention of the entire surgical team. As a team, we can prevent errors.

Ms. Burk, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, CSSM, CNOR, is Director of Surgical Services for Lake Norman Regional Medical Center, located just off I-77 at Exit 33 in Mooresville.


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