PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Despite the benefits of rapidly advancing therapeutic and diagnostic possibilities, the perioperative setting still exposes patients to significant risks of adverse events and harm. Anesthesiologists are in midstream of perioperative care and can make significant contributions to patient safety and patient outcomes. This article reviews recent research results outlining the current trends of perioperative patient harm and summarizes the evidence in favor of patient safety practices. RECENT FINDINGS: Adverse events and patient harm continue to be frequent in the perioperative period. Adverse events occur in about 30% of hospital admissions, are associated with higher mortality, and may be preventable in more than 50%. Evidence-based recommendations are available for many patient safety issues. No magic bullet practices exist, but promising targets include the prevention and limitation of perioperative infections and of complications of airway and respiratory management, the maintenance of achieved safety standards, the use of checklists, and others. SUMMARY: Current research provides growing evidence for the effectiveness of several patient safety practices designed to prevent or diminish perioperative adverse events and patient harm. Future investigations will hopefully fill the numerous persisting knowledge gaps.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Patient care in the operating room is a dynamic interaction that requires cooperation among team members and reliance upon sophisticated technology. Most human factors research in medicine has been focused on analyzing errors and implementing system-wide changes to prevent them from recurring. We describe a set of techniques that has been used successfully by the aviation industry to analyze errors and adverse events and explain how these techniques can be applied to patient care. RECENT FINDINGS: Threat and error management (TEM) describes adverse events in terms of risks or challenges that are present in an operational environment (threats) and the actions of specific personnel that potentiate or exacerbate those threats (errors). TEM is a technique widely used in aviation, and can be adapted for the use in a medical setting to predict high-risk situations and prevent errors in the perioperative period. A threat taxonomy is a novel way of classifying and predicting the hazards that can occur in the operating room. TEM can be used to identify error-producing situations, analyze adverse events, and design training scenarios. SUMMARY: TEM offers a multifaceted strategy for identifying hazards, reducing errors, and training physicians. A threat taxonomy may improve analysis of critical events with subsequent development of specific interventions, and may also serve as a framework for training programs in risk mitigation.