“If you are having surgery, make sure your doctor marks the proper surgical site clearly — and initials it.” That’s a recommendation from a recent Washington Post article titled HEADED FOR THE HOSPITAL? HERE’S HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF.
That sounds a little extreme doesn’t it? While the hospitals may screw something up, surely they’ll get the right area, won’t they? Maybe not. The Archives of Surgery, the official medical journal of surgical associations across the country, has a recent report that studies surgeries (1) where the procedure was performed on the wrong-side or site of the body; (2) where the wrong procedures are performed; or (3) where the doctors operate on the wrong patients. There are no formal methods to report these type of surgeries, but the article’s authors surveyed several separate databases and estimated that there are between 1,300 and 2,700 of these events in the US each year. That means that each day, on average, there are 3-7 operations around the country where a doctor operates on the wrong side, performs the wrong procedure, or operates on the wrong patient. Those numbers would be almost unbelievable if they didn’t come from physicians themselves.
So maybe the advice isn’t so radical, and next time you go in the hospital, remember to protect yourself.
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