Every week, there is at least one wrong site surgery occurring in a hospital or clinic somewhere in the United States. This is a surgery in which the surgeon operates on the wrong part of the body. Such mistakes may seem fantastical to the general public, but as Indiana medical malpractice attorneys will tell you, these incidents are far too common to brush aside.
Recently, Becker’s Clinical Quality and Infection Control ran a list of 8 steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of wrong site surgery.
The number one factor that must be in place in order to minimize the risk of wrong site surgery in a hospital is a culture that holds that patient safety is paramount. This culture must be ingrained not just in the people on the ground like the nurses, surgeons and junior doctors, but also the management. There must be frequent discussions about the topic in the form of regular e-mails, and conferences.
In order to reduce the risk of wrong site surgery, it is necessary to involve the participation of all 3 groups of medical personnel who may be involved in these errors -the doctors, the nurses as well as the anesthesiologist. These medical personnel must agree on the procedures for checking the site to be operated on, and double-checking it before the surgery. The World Health Organization and the Joint Commission recommend the use of a surgical checklist. These checklists do not have to be one-size-fits-all, but can be modified to suit the requirements of the hospital.
Hospitals must also conduct frequent education sessions about avoiding wrong-site surgeries, and all operation room team members must be included in the sessions. Often, these errors occur because of a lack of collaboration in the operating room, and these errors can be minimized when all medical personnel get together and discuss the checklist beforehand. Role-playing exercises can be conducted in order to set a template for the kind of behavior that should be seen in the operating room.
Surgeons must be in charge of going over the checklist. A circulating nurse must be in charge of completing every precautionary task, including double-checking the site of the surgery.
Include more than one double-check to minimize the risk of wrong site surgery. This process of double checking should start right from the top in the surgeon’s office, when the patient agrees to the surgery. The site of the surgery should be frequently used in communication between the doctor and the patient, the surgeon and his operating room staff, and this should go on until the operation has been completed.
Hospitals can also look into installing secret spies in operating rooms in order to check whether team members are using checklists to prevent these errors.
After the surgery, team members must review the surgery again, and identify any possible near misses.
The Indiana medical malpractice attorneys at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy represent persons injured due to medical negligence across Indiana.