Observe National Time Out Day


Observe National Time Out Day

National Time Out Day is Wednesday, June 8, when perioperative nurses, also known as surgical nurses, will work with their surgical teams to review the preoperative safety process of time out. Performed prior to the start of every invasive procedure, time out is the final safety check to confirm right patient, right site and right procedure.

Surgery on the wrong patient or wrong body part is called a “never event." A significant uptick in wrong site surgeries over the past three years indicates teams are not giving enough time for a consistent and fully engaged time out, according to the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses' (AORN) National Time Out Day website.

The Joint Commission addresses the surgical time out in its 2022 National Patient Safety Goals of its Universal Protocol for Preventing Wrong Site, Wrong Procedure, and Wrong Person Surgery. The organization first introduced hospitals to a simple process for preventing wrong site surgery in 2004.

The Universal Protocol calls for the patient and the licensed independent practitioner to confirm the procedure and mark the body part to be operated on, and for every member of the surgical team to participate in a time out before operating to ensure that the correct procedure is about to begin on the correct part of the correct patient, according to a release.

AORN created National Time Out Day to raise awareness. AORN also developed a Comprehensive Surgical Checklist to enable individual facilities to meet The Joint Commission’s Universal Protocol and the World Health Organization’s standards while customizing the checklist according to surgical specialties.

According to The Joint Commission, patients, administrators and surgical teams can take four very important actions to avoid “never events.”

Step 1: Observe time out best practices

Audit time outs to see how engaged team members are in every step of the time out as part of the Comprehensive Surgical Checklist established at your organization. Here are questions to ask during a time out audit:

  • Is the person designated to lead the time out always leading the time out?
  • Are all members of the team engaged for the complete duration of the time out?
  • Are all other activities in the OR halted for the complete duration of the time out?

Step 2: Review time out observations as a team

Findings from a series of time out audits should be reviewed by all members of the team in a nonpunitive way so improvements can be discussed and agreed upon. From this discussion, the team should develop proposed time out improvements.

Step 3: Test time out improvements

Proposed time out changes should be tested prior to implementation to assess effectiveness and “fit” for every team member. For example, if a team decides that the Mayo stand for instruments will not be moved to the OR table until the fully engaged time out is completed, this new process should be tested to ensure feasibility and timing.

Step 4: Enlist a time out champion on every team

Whether it is the surgeon, the RN circulator or a different team member leading the time out, a designated person should champion every time out. This person should feel equally confident to address safety concerns and encourage others on the team to address any concerns they may observe.

Observe and promote a fully engaged National Time Out Day on June 8 and beyond.