Minnesota hospital uses "timeout towel" to prevent surgical error

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

January 28, 2009

In an attempt to prevent wrong-site surgeries, Regions Hospital in St. Paul, MN, has taken a creative--but they think necessary--step. Operating room (OR) staff members now use a "timeout towel" that covers the surgical instruments to help them remember to take that important step of stopping prior to surgery to check that they have the correct patient, surgical site, and side of the body, reports The Star Tribune.  In 2007, the hospital became aware of just how necessary this step is after a wrong-site surgery occurred.

The University of Minnesota found through a recent study involving direct observation of surgical procedures that in many cases, OR staff members ignored the time out or did not take part. The "timeout towel" is hoped to be a memory trigger, a reminder to all staff members that they are required to stop and perform the timeout. The towel has the word "Time-Out" written in red lettering.

To read the article, click here.