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4 ways hospitals can put an end to wrong-site surgery

Few things are as devastating to a patient as a wrong-site surgery. It often means that the initial surgery still has to be done at a later date, and it can mean the patient suffers irreversible harm.

For instance, a patient goes in to have his or her right foot amputated. Doctors amputate the left foot instead. The patient's medical condition means the original amputation is still needed, leaving the patient with a life-long disability.

So, what can hospitals do to prevent these mistakes?

  1. Create surgery checklists: Make sure surgeons and their teams complete the entire checklist, every time. Each one can be created specifically for the type of surgery being carried out.
  2. Remember that miscommunication plays a huge role: This is often an issue when a patient gets a new care provider. When one person's shift ends and another person's shift begins, communication must be flawless to avoid future mistakes.
  3. Mark the surgery site before the procedure: Yes, the paperwork indicates the proper side and the doctor read it, but physically marking it on the patient's body makes it even harder for a mistake to be made.
  4. Get patients themselves involved: Ask the patient what surgery needs to be done. When marking the site, have the patient help. While doctors may see many patients every day and get confused, patients only have one procedure planned and they can focus in on the details.

Hospitals do try, but mistakes happen. When a negligent surgeon makes an avoidable error that causes you serious harm, you need to know all of the legal rights that you have.

Source: Becker's ASC Review, "6 Steps to Prevent Wrong-Site Surgery," Rachel Fields, accessed April 26, 2018

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