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Advocating for importance of patient safety

Published: Saturday, May 31, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

On June 11, National Time Out Day will be practiced in hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers around the country.

Taking a “time out” to confirm correct patient, correct procedure, correct surgical site, and other important information before every operative and other invasive procedure is a requirement of the Joint Commission Universal Protocol. Despite the requirement, 40 to 60 wrong site surgeries likely occur in the U.S. each week. 

Time Out Day was created by the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) in 2004 as a way to raise awareness about the importance of requiring the entire surgical team to pause before all invasive procedures to communicate as a group and confirm key information about the patient and procedure to help prevent errors from occurring. 

Wrong patient, wrong site, wrong procedures are sentinel events – described by the Joint Commission as “an unexpected occurrence involving death or serious physical or psychological injury, or the risk thereof.”

To perioperative nurses, they are tragedies. That is why, as a perioperative nurse and AORN member, I commemorate National Time Out Day with this public commitment to my patients, their loved ones and the entire surgical community that I will always take time out for every patient, every time.

Note to readers: Sue Goddard-Gerrald has been an operating room nurse for 41 years and works at Genesis Medical Center in Davenport, Iowa.

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