Kerri Funderburk 1/25/20244 min. read

How Healthcare Professionals Can Prioritize Visual Accuracy and Minimize Visual Errors in Surgical Settings

As a company that designs, engineers, and manufactures lighting for technical applications, such as operating rooms and surgical suites, we recognize that it is crucial to emphasize the potential risks and consequences that can arise from visual errors during the procedures that take place in these spaces.

These errors can lead to serious complications and adverse outcomes for patients, their surgical staff, and hospitals. For instance, a surgeon may misinterpret an anatomical structure or fail to identify a critical blood vessel, resulting in unintended damage or excessive bleeding. A nurse could trip over the various cables and devices occupying the room and become unable to perform, requiring a replacement and potentially contaminating the sterility of the space.

Additionally, visual errors can also lead to incorrect incisions, improper placement of medical devices, or inadequate removal of diseased tissue. These mistakes can prolong the surgical procedure, increase the risk of post-operative infections, and potentially compromise the patient’s overall health and well-being. Therefore, it is imperative for healthcare professionals to prioritize visual accuracy and take necessary precautions to minimize the occurrence of visual errors in surgical settings.

Understanding Visual Errors

Visual errors in the operating room refer to mistakes or inaccuracies that occur due to problems with visual perception or interpretation. These errors can happen when healthcare professionals misinterpret or misjudge visual information during surgical procedures.

Several factors contribute to visual errors in the operating room.

  • Poor lighting conditions can make it difficult for surgeons to see clearly, leading to mistakes in identifying anatomical structures or performing precise movements.
  • Glare from surgical lights or reflective surfaces can impair visibility and hinder accurate visual perception.
  • Inadequate visual cues, such as unclear or ambiguous markings or labels, can confuse healthcare professionals and increase the likelihood of errors.

How do we address these issues?

  • Improving lighting conditions by using adjustable and focused lights can enhance visibility and reduce the risk of mistakes.
  • Minimizing glare through proper positioning and color temperature of lights and using non-reflective surfaces can also improve visual clarity.
  • Providing clear and standardized visual cues, such as well-designed anatomical models or accurate labeling systems, can help healthcare professionals interpret visual information accurately and prevent errors.

The Advantages of Narrow Spectrum Green Lighting

Narrow-spectrum green LEDs have a wavelength of 540nm and distribute light through a textured acrylic lens into the OR space. Using this design instead of a filter or colored lens will protect against degradation of hue or lens coating over time.

This specialized lighting:

  • Provides optimal visibility for surgeons and medical staff.
  • Reduces eye strain.
  • Eliminates afterimage effects.
  • Reduces glare from monitors and other equipment in the space.
  • Lowers fatigue during long procedures.
  • Enhances contrast and depth perception.

With the increase in less invasive surgeries, the need for better lighting is here. Gone are the days of surgical staff misreading labels and fumbling around in the dark to accommodate surgical procedures that require the overheard lights to be dimmed or off. Green lighting has also been shown to have a calming effect on patients, promoting a more relaxed and comfortable environment. Overall, the use of narrow spectrum green lighting in operating rooms can significantly improve surgical outcomes and enhance the overall experience for both medical professionals and patients.

Strategies to Avoid Visual Errors

Visual errors in the operating room can have serious consequences for patients and medical professionals alike. To mitigate the risk of such errors, several strategies can be put into place.

  • Ensuring proper lighting conditions is crucial. Sufficient and appropriate lighting can enhance visibility and reduce the chances of misinterpretation or misjudgment.
  • Organizing the surgical environment in a clutter-free manner can help minimize distractions and confusion.
  • Implementing standardized protocols and checklists can also play a significant role in preventing visual errors by ensuring that all necessary steps are followed, and no crucial details are overlooked.
  • Utilizing advanced imaging technologies and surgical navigation systems can provide surgeons with real-time visual guidance, enhancing precision and reducing the likelihood of errors.
  • Fostering effective communication and teamwork among the surgical team can help in identifying and rectifying any visual errors promptly.
  • Regular eye exams are essential for maintaining optimal eye health and visual function. These exams can detect and manage various eye conditions, preserve overall health, and improve quality of life.

By implementing these strategies, healthcare professionals can work towards creating a safer and more efficient operating room environment. Learn more by submitting a request for our AIA accredited white paper, “Creating an Optimal Visual Environment in an Operating Room” to Dana Porter at


Architectural Products. (2023, Feb 7). The Advantages of Narrow Spectrum Green Lighting in Operating Rooms.

Halper, M. (2017, June 2). How LEDs are eliminating mistakes in the operating room. LEDs Magazine.

Kansal, Ki. (2023). The importance of regular eye exams: Beyond Visual acuity. Indian Journal Of Applied Research. 13(10).

Nasri, B.-N., Mitchell, J. D., Jackson, C., Nakamoto, K., Guglielmi, C., & Jones, D. B. (2022). Distractions in the operating room: A survey of the healthcare team. Surgical Endoscopy, 37(3), 2316–2325.

Sampene, K. C., Littleton, E. B., Kanter, S. L., & Sutkin, G. (2019). Preventing error in the operating room: Five teaching strategies for high-stakes learning. Journal of Surgical Research, 236, 12–21.