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Research examines the causes of wrong-site surgery


Patients in Newton and across the United States are aware of the dangers when they are set to undergo a surgical procedure. It's a risk to have even the smallest incision and surgery. When it is a larger and more dangerous procedure, there is always the possibility of long-term damage. While the surgery itself can be problematic, one issue that is rarely considered as a potential mistake is wrong-site surgery. Unfortunately, they do happen.

Research is being conducted to discover the main causes for this surgeon mistake. Reasons for wrong-site surgery include scheduling, errors during pre-op procedures, operating room mistakes and organizational culture. The manner in which surgeries are scheduled can cause missteps. Often done over the telephone, through a written communication or via email, the way in which surgeries are scheduled lays the foundation for errors. It is easy for the person on the receiving end of the information to make a mistake due to mishearing or reading a wrong name.

During pre-op and holding, sites must be marked with proper surgical-site markers and patients must be verified. There are documents that must be present with the patient's consent for the surgery, the history, the surgeon's orders for the booking and the schedule. Mistakes are often due to inconsistency and incorrectness. When the mark as to where the surgery is supposed to be performed is made, it might be with a sticker rather than an approved marker. Failing to verify can be caused by rushing and being distracted by other issues.

Rushing also occurs in the operating room. If there are multiple procedures being performed that day, there might be a mix-up. A failure to communicate, an absence of proper documentation, the removal of site marks and distractions can occur. Finally, the culture of the facility might lapse on patient safety, a lack of communication, leadership faults and fear of speaking out on the part of the staff.

Wrong-site surgery is one of the more egregious errors that a medical staff can make. There is little excuse for having a patient come in for one procedure on a particular part of the body and it being done elsewhere. It can cause injury, longer-term hospitalizations and even death. Those who are subjected to these kinds of surgical errors need to understand their rights and discuss a potential lawsuit with a legal professional.

Source: American Hospital Association, "Reducing the Risks of Wrong-Site Surgery: Safety Practices from The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare Project," accessed on July 4, 2015

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