The first ever audit of UK laparoscopic operating theatres has revealed that only one in ten hospitals (11 per cent) are operating with the highest standard of equipment and resource considered adequate to carry out safe, advanced laparoscopic – or keyhole - surgery. The Association of Laparoscopic Surgeons of Great Britain & Ireland (ALSGBI) found a wide variation in the availability and quality of equipment available in theatres across the country, including almost 28 per cent of hospitals operating with obsolete and, in some cases, potentially unsafe standard equipment (“Bronze” standard).
Laparoscopic surgery is used for almost all gastrointestinal and abdominal operations, bringing patients the benefits of smaller scars, less pain and rapid recovery. Technology has moved on rapidly in recent years and high definition camera equipment provides laparoscopic surgeons with improved image quality. This has enabled surgeons to undertake more complex procedures, and promotes efficiency by shortening operations and preventing surgeon fatigue.
At the same time equipment has become safer. The surgical instruments inserted into the abdomen (called ‘Trocars’) used to be sharp and made of metal which carried additional risk of accidentally puncturing organs or spreading infection. These have been phased out and the ALSGBI recommend the use of blunt, disposable Trocars.
The National Audit of Theatre Equipment 2010, surveyed 474 hospitals across Great Britain and Northern Ireland and graded respondents either “Bronze”, “Silver” or “Gold”. The audit asked hospitals to outline the types of laparoscopic procedures regularly performed, the age, standard and type of equipment and how their equipment was powered and maintained. It found that uptake of new equipment was varied:
- 61% of hospitals were operating with “Silver” standard equipment
- Nearly 25% of hospitals did not have a maintenance contract to replace broken equipment
- 19% of hospitals were using Sharp Metal Trocars – old, reusable equipment
- Around 3% of hospitals were not using modern energy sources for their equipment e.g. Ultrasound
Mr Mike Parker, Past President of the Association of Laparoscopic Surgeons of Great Britain & Ireland (ALSGBI), said: “The view from the original laparoscopic cameras was like squinting through a goldfish bowl, in comparison, HD equipment has revolutionised practice. It is unbelievable that some surgeons are still having to use equipment which limits the operations they can perform safely. We hope the result of this audit encourages surgeons and management to discuss upgrading their equipment to improve standards and to reassure patients that the best service is being provided.”
Full results of the survey can be found on the ALSBGI website.
Notes to Editors:
- The Association of Laparoscopic Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland aims to foster developments in laparoscopic surgery, to provide a structure for training, to promote educational and academic objectives and to act as a liaison under the umbrella of the Association of Surgeons with the surgical Royal Colleges, the Specialist Advisory Committee and other surgical and academic bodies. http://www.alsgbi.org
- The National Audit of Theatre Equipment 2010, surveyed 474 hospitals across Great Britain and Northern Ireland and graded 258 respondents either “Bronze”, “Silver” or “Gold”.
- The Royal College of Surgeons of England is committed to enabling surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care. Registered charity number: 212808.
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