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Combining surgical systems and teamwork changes improve safety

Patients who need surgery in New Mexico and throughout the United States can be made safer through methods that combine both a change in culture and a change in systems. What is probably the largest observational study that looked at surgical teams was conducted by researchers at Oxford University.

The studies that were conducted found that neither changing the system nor focusing on teamwork alone was particularly effective. However, when staff were trained in both teamwork and communication as well as systems improvement, there were significant differences. The results were published in the journal "Annals of Surgery."

According to the researchers, training in teamwork did not enable medical professionals to make changes in working practices while those who were focused on system improvement were unable to make improvements for the patients. Training in both areas enabled staff to be more ambitious and to seek out experts for additional help.

Although surgical mistakes are supposed to be very rare, they still affect a certain number of patients each year, and depending on the error, this can significantly affect patient outcomes. Whether the error is a relatively minor one or a major one such as wrong-site surgery or instruments left inside patients, a patient may suffer a longer recovery time. In some cases, the error might even be fatal. A patient or the family of a patient who has suffered from surgical errors may want to speak to an attorney to learn about the options that may be available. The error might be a case of medical malpractice, and if so, the patient may want to file a civil lawsuit against the medical professional and the facility where the error occurred.

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