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Today is National Time Out (for patient safety) Day

SurgeonsA "time out" in a preschool is something entirely different from the "time outs" that take place multiple times a day in hospitals such as Upstate University Hospital. Time outs in a hospital are for patient safety, something emphasized by National Time Out Day -- which is today.

"We do a 'time out' prior to beginning any invasive procedure, which provides assurance the appropriate procedure will be performed on the correct patient and on the proper site or side," says nurse Julie Briggs, a patient safety officer at Upstate.

The time out policy does not apply to routine minor procedures such as intravenous line or Foley catheter placement, or to emergency procedures performed in critical situations. It does apply to any procedures that involves puncture or incision of the skin, or the insertion of an instrument or foreign material into the body. Before the procedure begins, staff pause to verify they have the correct patient and other important information. This is a requirement of The Joint Commission Universal Protocol, and despite the requirement, an estimated 40 to 60 wrong site surgeries occur in the United States each week, according to the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses.

The association started National Time Out Day 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.

Learn more about National Time Out Day.