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Photo provided Lakewood Health System's Surgical Team is proud of their strict adherence to standards of practice, like Time-Out, that help ensure patient safety.

Time-Out campaign highlights safety measures at Lakewood Health System

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The Minnesota Safe Surgery Coalition's (MSSC) recent campaign to prevent surgical errors shines a spotlight on Lakewood's long-term participation in the Coalition's Time-Out safety program.

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The Minnesota Surgery Coalition launched the Time-Out campaign in June due to a reported increase in the number of procedures performed on the wrong side or body site in the past few years. Targeted at health care facilities, the campaign is meant to revitalize the Time-Out Program's five-step procedure for preventing surgical errors.

Angie Hartwig, Lakewood Health System surgery supervisor, said Lakewood has been performing the Time-Out safety procedure ever since it was first proposed by the MSSC, and has augmented the procedure to include additional safety steps.

"It's our goal to go beyond standard practice," said Hartwig, "especially where it involves patient safety."

Hartwig pointed to the fact that every member of the Lakewood surgical team, from the technicians to the surgeons, has been actively involved in the revitalized process.

"We have a strong team that is committed to quality care," said Hartwig. "We hold one another accountable and follow our procedures, including Time-Out, to the letter."

Time-Out requires the surgical team to stop prior to surgery and verify critical information including the patient's name, the procedure being performed, and the site of the procedure. Hartwig said Lakewood also places a sterilized towel with the words "Time-Out" over the surgical instruments as yet another safety step for ensuring compliance.

In addition to Time-Out, Hartwig said Lakewood also follows the standards of practice recommended by the Association of periOperative Nurses (AORN). AORN's standards outline additional steps and safety measures prior to surgery to help ensure quality outcomes for patients, including marking the surgical site to avoid any errors.

Minnesota hospitals are required by law to report adverse events, including wrong-site surgeries. Lakewood had no adverse events in 2010. Hartwig said there is zero tolerance for not following the facility's strict procedures.

"We never relax our standards," said Hartwig, "we only set them higher."

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