Wrong Site Surgeries

Recent medical statistics put wrong site surgery events at 13% of medical errors. This is a high percentage given the protocols and procedures the Joint Commission has enacted in order to prevent these wrong site surgeries. The Joint Commission, a patient advocacy group, introduced the Universal Protocol in 2003 in order to prevent such medical errors. The Joint Commission’s Universal Protocol has been widely acclaimed by the American Medical Association and other health industry groups. The Protocol consists of three important steps to avoid such errors: 1)pre-op identification and confirmation that the procedure matches the patient, 2)marking the operation site with a permanent marker, and 3)taking a “time out” immediately prior to the procedure to check once again that the patient is correct and the procedure and site match.
However, nothing has stemmed the tide of wrong site surgical errors. Of course, the human factor is a component of this problem. Some wrong site surgeries occur in emergency situations where a patient has to be rushed to surgery in order to save a life. On other occasions, multiple doctors add to the operating room confusion.
None of these circumstances excuses the fact that all wrong site surgeries are preventable.