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Eye (Lond). 2006 Mar;20(3):275-82.

Patient safety in cataract surgery.

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Bolton Hospitals NHS Trust, UK.



The recent focus on healthcare errors and safety suggest that practitioners and policy makers might appraise their cataract surgical care from a patient safety perspective. This paper reviews patient safety issues relevant to cataract care. Causation and consequences of incidents in cataract surgery, with implications for policy, are discussed.


Models of accident causation from other domains were drawn on and empirically applied to cataract care. Consultation was undertaken with experts in cataract surgery, patient safety, and in risk management. Feedback on patient safety was included from presentations made to staff and patients and from personal insights.


Ophthalmology teams should embrace steps to improve patient safety. The role of incident reporting is advanced, including the provision of a prompt menu of cataract patient safety incidents as suggested by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.


Strict attention to detail, risk assessment, and careful consideration of the patient pathway is needed to enhance cataract care. Clinical errors, near misses and complications happen, and may provide an opportunity for learning to reduce the risk of similar events in the future. Investment in staffing and training, appropriate equipment, and development of a safety culture with patient involvement are key elements of safe cataract surgical care. Patients and the public expect that safe cataract care should be commissioned for them. Critical patient safety incidents, including incidents that have led to permanent harm, require careful analysis of underlying systems and/or root causes.

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