Study: Wrong-Site and Wrong-Patient Procedures Continue

Wrong-site and wrong-patient procedures persist at a high frequency, calling for the promotion of a zero-tolerance policy for preventable medical errors, according to a study published in the Oct. 2010 issue of Archives of Surgery.

The study looked at 27,370 physician self-reported adverse occurrences that occurred between Jan. 2002 and June 2008. Researchers identified 25 wrong-patient and 107 wrong-site operations.

Of the wrong-patient and wrong-site operations, five patients who received unnecessary surgery and 38 who received wrong-site operations were significantly harmed, and one patient undergoing a wrong-site procedure died, according to the study.

The main causes of wrong-patient procedures were errors in diagnosis (56 percent) and errors in communication (100 percent). The main causes of wrong-site procedures were related to errors in judgment (85 percent) and the lack of a "time-out" before starting surgery (72 percent).

Read the abstract on "Wrong-Site and Wrong-Patient Procedures in the Universal Protocol Era."

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