In our previous post we discussed the case of a surgeon who operated on the wrong eye of a 4-year-old patient. Medical malpractice incidents such as the eye operation are serious and impact many patients every day in the Boston area and around the country.
A doctor and former CEO of the National Quality Forum told CNN that he was disappointed when he heard the news of the surgery error. “It’s serious, it’s preventable, and it should never happen,” the doctor said.
The National Quality Forum recommends that doctors use a checklist to prevent errors, but there are limitations to the effectiveness of a checklist given the complexities of surgery.
“People underestimate how complex the system is and the number of ways that errors can happen,” he said. “There are dozens of doctors that will be involved in a case that goes to an operating room. Every time someone new sees a patient, there’s the potential that they’ll miss something or get a detail wrong.”
CNN reports that a 2006 study into the frequency of surgical errors in America found that approximately 2,700 surgical mistakes occurred every year that involved an operation on the wrong body part or the wrong patient. This means approximately 7 wrong-side or wrong-patient operations happen daily.
The doctor who performed the eye surgery was in private practice but had hospital privileges at a nearby medical center.
“We are working with our operating room staff, and with the private practice physicians who were involved, to identify what happened so we can prevent it from happening again,” the hospital said in a statement.
Source: CNN Health, “Patients, beware of wrong-side surgeries,” Sabriya Rice, 4/28/11