Preventing surgical errors is top priority

Oct. 28, 2019

New processes designed to reduce the possibility of a wrong-site surgery went into effect July 1 for hospitals in the UCHealth Southern Colorado Region and reflect incremental changes to protect patient and provider alike.

Lisa Kilian

Dr. Paul Reckard, senior medical director for perioperative services, and Lisa Kilian, senior director for perioperative services, engaged physicians and nurses for ideas to improve processes. They also combed academic journals for evidence-based practices to put checks and balances into place in what is an inherently human process.

“We have talked with lots of people from other hospitals,” Reckard said. “We want to hear how things were done elsewhere so we can look at that process and see if it makes sense here.”

Dr. Paul Reckard

Initial efforts include requiring surgeons to create and sign an order for the specific planned surgery as well as requiring preoperative paperwork to be completed at least 48 hours in advance. The advance notice allows nursing staff to review documents for consistency and accuracy. Last-minute scrambling for paperwork should not be necessary, Reckard said.

Additionally, standardizing processes across UCHealth Southern Colorado Region facilities will help ensure consistent expectations for preoperative documentation.

About the author

Tom Hutton is a veteran communications professional who enjoys making complex subjects relatable to people from all walks of life. Prior to joining UCHealth in 2019, he taught and led public communications at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Previously, he led communications at the University of Kansas and was a reporter and manager for newspapers in Kansas, Iowa and California. In these roles, he earned recognition from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the University of Colorado and various press associations.

Tom earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from KU and a master’s degree in public administration from CU. He enjoys college sports, vintage cars, cooking Kansas City-style barbeques, skiing and hiking.

He and his wife Julie have two daughters and a son.