When many of us hear the words “time out,” we automatically think about one of two things – disciplining a child or a sporting event. On Wednesday, June 20, The Outer Banks Hospital will recognize another type of time out. This “time out” is a final step before a surgical procedure to verify that the correct procedure will be performed on the correct patient.

“This is an important safety initiative that prevents the risk of wrong site, wrong procedure, wrong person surgery,” said Van Smith, hospital president. “Time Out” reinforces good communication among all members of the surgical team as they embark on what can be a very complex procedure.”

National Time Out Day is just one of many initiatives under way to increase patient safety and identify the cause of errors. It represents a significant collaboration among nurses, physicians, patients and health care professionals to reduce errors and improve care.

Performing a “Time Out” can identify a mistake before the error ever reaches the patient,” said Cindy Nilson, Perioperative Director. “National Time Out Day is a reminder that a time out should take place before every surgery or invasive procedure.”

Patients can also take a proactive approach by being an active member of their health care team. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Take part in every decision about your health care.
  • Make sure that all of your doctors know about all medicines you are taking. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, and dietary supplements such as vitamins and herbs.
  • Make sure your doctor knows about any allergies and adverse reactions you have had to medicines.
  • When your doctor writes you a prescription, make sure you can read it.
  • Ask for information about your medicines in terms you can understand—both when your medicines are prescribed and when you receive them.
  • If you have any questions about the directions on your medicine labels, ask.
  • When you are being discharged from the hospital, ask your doctor to explain the treatment plan you will use at home.
  • If you are having surgery, make sure that you, your doctor, and your surgeon all agree and are clear on exactly what will be done.
  • Speak up if you have questions or concerns.
  • Make sure that all health professionals involved in your care have important health information about you.
  • Ask a family member or friend to be there with you and to be your advocate (someone who can help get things done and speak up for you if you can't).

National Time Out Day was created in 2004 to increase awareness of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations’ Universal Protocol for Preventing Wrong Site, Wrong Procedure, Wrong Person SurgeryTM. The Association of PeriOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), the American College of Surgeons (ACS), the American Society of Anesthesiologist (ASA), the American Hospital Association (AHA), and more than 40 other professional organizations have endorsed the use of Universal Protocol. For more information about National Time Out Day and the Universal Protocol, visit www.aorn.org or www.jointcommission.org.