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Surgical Safety: The Cutting Edge of Risk-Free Medical Procedures

Conventional wisdom holds that surgery of many kinds was practiced as early as 3000 BC throughout ancient cultures, including Egypt, Europe, Africa, and South America. The Greeks, known to set broken bones, among other procedures, influenced the Romans, who amputated limbs and operated on eyes. Middle Eastern physicians were heralded for their focus on orthopedics and military surgery amid other practices dating to 900 AD. Even as the scope of surgery continued to expand through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, it was still, without question, a perilous, life-threatening endeavor due to limited knowledge of anatomy and profound ignorance of the critical importance of surgical safety.

The Evolution of Surgery

It was not until the late 1800s that surgery began to be performed routinely with the assistance of anesthesia to thwart the patient’s pain, and the threat of infection was not addressed in a significant way until the 1860s when it was discovered that bacteria prevented healing and caused disease and even death. From that time on, advancements in the practice of surgery have grown exponentially, rendering the operating room a haven for the successful, lifesaving, safe medical treatment enjoyed by patients today.

The Importance of Safe Surgical Procedures

Ensuring patient safety is of prime importance and relies heavily on a surgical safety system that establishes and promotes a culture of communication and trust for both patients and clinicians. To serve the millions of people who undergo surgery each year, The World Health Organization (WHO) together with the Harvard School of Public Health published the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist. This 19-item tool was designed to reduce errors while increasing communication and teamwork during surgery, all with the end goal of patient safety and healing. The WHO Checklist sets the standard followed by surgical professionals and manufacturers of surgical equipment worldwide.

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