Worried About Wrong-Site Surgery? Protect Yourself

Worried About Wrong-Site Surgery? Protect Yourself

When friends or family members check into a Maryland hospital for surgery, they are entrusting their health and well being to the doctors and nurses who will care for them. While they may have concerns, depending on the seriousness of the condition and difficulty of the surgical procedure, they likely feel reassured by the medical staff as they begin preparations.

The idea that the one they entrust to make the incision might actually make it in the wrong place probably does not occur to too many people before they enter surgery. Unfortunately, however, wrong-site surgery does happen sometimes.

Most common wrong-site surgery errors

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes the occurrence is rare - one in 112,000 surgeries. For that one, however, the effects could be monumental. By far, the most common error the Department reported was surgery on the wrong side of a patient's body. Other mistakes included completing the wrong procedure or operating on the wrong patient.

Advice for guarding against wrong-site surgery

For advice on how to prepare for surgery and avoid such costly errors, The Joint Commission provides some advice. First, its advocates say, ask questions. Along with asking someone for help getting to and from the hospital, ask the doctor specifically about the procedure. Also, find out what to do to prepare for it. If there are any instructions that seem odd, do not be afraid to get more details.

Also, The Joint Commission recommends discussing the surgery with the hospital's other medical staff. Many may ask questions to verify the details of the procedure. If anything does not seem to reflect what the physician has said beforehand, clear up the confusion before undergoing anesthesia.

Finally, when the attending doctors mark the spot where they will make the incision, let them know if anything is amiss.

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