I’m fascinated by the phenomenon of surgeons performing the wrong procedures. It doesn’t make sense that a doctor would ever perform a surgery on the wrong site/body part, perform the wrong procedure on a patient, or perform a procedure on the wrong person. And yet, it happens over and over again. I’ve written extensively on it, including the following:
- Patient Tips To Avoid Wrong Site Surgery
- Medical Malpractice, Dead By Mistake, and Wrong Site Surgery
- Wrong Side, Wrong Procedure, Wrong Patient
- Wrong Site Surgery
The problem was so bad that the Joint Commission, an international body that works to make medical care safer, adopted a protocol to help minimize the risks of these types of problems. Unfortunately, a new study released this week shows that, despite the protocol and the additional attention to the problem, wrong site, wrong person or wrong procedure surgeries are as prevalent as ever.
The biggest culprit, according to the study, was culture. Communication, and the pointing out of problems, is not encouraged. In many operating rooms, the physicians and staff don’t really know one another, possibly not even knowing one another’s names. And there is a culture of hierarchy. Nurses or low level persons may often sense problems, but they’re unwilling to speak up because they are intimidated by the hierarchy.
Regardless of the reasons, this has to stop. There is simply no excuse for these types of errors, and the medical profession needs to find a way to fix it.
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