24% of Surgical Errors Can Be Blamed on the Machine

24% of Surgical Errors Can Be Blamed on the Machine


If you’re worried about the robot apocalypse and how our metallic creations are going to take over all of our jobs, this is going to sound like some good news. If you enjoy living and would like to survive your next visit to the hospital, then this is going to sound pretty grim.

A new study was recently published in the BMJ Quality & Safety journal and it indicated that a technological “glitch” was the root cause of 1 in 4 surgical errors. That’s a lot, especially when you consider how much these surgeons rely on the technology around them to monitor their patients and to perform the actual surgeries. There’s still human error, but if the human is operating based on what the machine says or does, this kind of statistic stacks the odds against us.

It’s annoying when your home computer or your smartphone glitches out in one way or another, but this is very expensive surgical equipment that could literally mean the difference between life and death. You would hope that the error rate would be so miniscule that it could largely be ignored. To be fair, they do say that having proper briefing and training could cut that error rate in half.

Of the technological “glitches” that caused problems in surgery, 37% were due to equipment failure, 44% were related to equipment configuraton and 33% were because of device malfunctions.