Another Wrong Site Surgery at RI Hospital

More bad news from RI Hospital:

A surgeon at Rhode Island Hospital operated on the wrong finger during outpatient hand surgery on Thursday, a hospital statement acknowledged Friday morning. It was the fifth wrong-site surgery at Rhode Island Hospital, and the sixth in the state, since 2007.

The patient was scheduled for surgery on two fingers. A joint on one finger underwent a procedure intended for another finger, hospital president Timothy J. Babineau said in a letter to employees.

“The patient subsequently underwent surgery on the correct finger and joint, did well and was discharged home later that day,” Babineau’s letter said. “The surgeon discussed the error with the patient and, in keeping with our policy, the Department of Health was immediately notified.” The hospital said it would not disclose further details about the surgery to protect the patient’s confidentiality.

State law requires hospitals to notify the Health Department of major incidents within 24 hours. Annemarie Beardsworth, Health Department spokeswoman, said that an investigator is at the hospital now.

“Overall, we’re frustrated and we’re seriously concerned that this seems to be a continuing pattern at Rhode Island Hospital,” Beardsworth said. The results of the Health Department investigation will not be available immediately.

Thankfully, medical negligence attorneys are holding doctors accountable for cases of medical negligence such as this.  If you have been unfortunate enough to have been a victim of a surgical error, such as wrong-site surgery, you should consider speaking with a medical negligence attorney about your rights.  Further, if you have an upcoming surgery, there are several steps that you can take to protect yourself:

  1. Ensure that your hospital follows the 2004 Universal Protocol issue by the Joint Commission, the national agency that accredits hospitals: (a) before you start to operate, verify that you are doing the right procedure on the correct part of the right patient;  (b) mark the site of surgery ahead of time; and (c) take a “time-out” right before surgery to make sure everything is in order.
  2. Ask that the surgical team frequently asks you questions requiring an active response, including name and procedure with site and/or side – especially prior to sedation.
  3. Ensure that two or more surgical team members are assigned to perform an independent verification and reconciliation of the schedule, consent, and history and physical.
  4. Ensure that the surgical staff is educated regarding the site of the surgery and ensure that the mark is visible when you are prepped, draped, positioned, and during the time out.
  5. Ensure that the site is marked unambiguously (with a skin marker, not a ballpoint pen) and in agreement with your understanding of the procedure.

The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority has much more information worth reviewing here.

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2 responses to “Another Wrong Site Surgery at RI Hospital

  1. It’s asking a lot of the patient to ‘ensure’ all these things. The only ones that are likely to be done is to take a marker and write instructions on your limbs and appendages, and to talk to the surgical team. Jeeze. When one doctor or nurse makes a mistake you can blame them– when it keeps on happening it’s an institutional problem.
    I’ll bet that they are simply pushing too many patients through too fast. Human beings will make errors when they are too rushed.

  2. Pingback: Nurses Union Offers Solutions to Wrong Site Surgeries « Closing Argument: a blog on truth, justice, the law (and the politics in between)

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