One in Four Surgical Errors Is a Machine's Fault

Technology might be transforming the world of healthcare, but it's also throwing up its fair share of problems, too: according to a new study, 1 in 4 surgical errors is a result of a technological glitch.

The new research, published in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety, indicates that an average of 15 errors occur during a typical operation—and that technological failure accounts for 24 percent of 'em. That's a substantial proportion, in an area that most people would expect to be fairly robust.

Indeed, the researchers point out that there is clear need for more rigorous checks before surgeries—and also claim that proper briefing and training could cut the technological error rate in half. The researchers explain the origins of the mistakes:

"The increasing use of technology in all surgical specialties may also increase the complexity of the surgical process, and may represent an increasing propensity to error from equipment failure."

In case you're wondering, the technological issues broke down into three broad groups: 37 percent were equipment failures; 44 percent were problems with equipment configuration and settings; and 33 percent were device malfunctions. Sounds like hospitals could do with better sysadmin teams. [BMJ Quality and Safety via Live Science]

Image by phil41dean under Creative Commons license