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    Remedying OR Safety Issues

    Fall 2012

    Richard Harth

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    Each year, more fatalities result from missteps or technical failures in the operating room than from car accidents, breast cancer, or complications from AIDS, according to a National Academy of Sciences study.

    IIT Associate Professor Jennifer Kang-Mieler and her biomedical engineering students are working to improve the OR environment. Their five-year project, funded by the National Institutes of Health, will allow 25–35 fourth-year students in Kang-Mieler’s two-semester capstone BME course to work on biomedical innovations to increase safety.

    “People assume that very sophisticated technology in the OR means that safety has improved, but that is not always the case,” Kang-Mieler says. “We really have to look at the culture in the OR.” To do this, she has teamed up with fellow BME Associate Professor Derek Kamper and John White, chair of the Department of Surgery of Advocate Lutheran General Hospital.

    “Improvement in patient safety requires redesigning the operating room to support and enhance all aspects of the surgical procedure,” White says. “These advances will come only through bright minds trained in analyzing processes, such as biomedical engineers.”

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