How To Seek Financial Compensation If You Or A Loved One Was Victim of A "Wrong Site" Surgery In Maryland, DC Or Virginia
Just imagine the horror of waking from anesthesia and discovering that the wrong kidney had been removed! The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCAHO), an independent organization reports that they receive about eight official reports each month of wrong site surgery in error.
However, as healthcare facilities are not required to report these “never events”, they also estimate that the number is at least 10 times higher. “Never events” meaning they should NEVER happen. A protocol was introduced to help doctors avoid surgical negligence.
In 2003, a three-step process, known as the “Universal Protocol” was introduced by the JCAHO, insuring that doctors perform surgery on the right location. The protocol established involves a series of checklists insuring over and over that the surgery is performed correctly and on the correct patient.
The first series involves conducting a pre-surgical procedure verification process. This involves verifying that the correct documentation such as patient identification, lab tests, procedural scheduling and correctly signed documentation is all in order before performing the surgery.
The second series involves marking the procedure site for surgery. At this point, a licensed independent practitioner or other provider who is permitted by the hospital to perform the procedure marks the procedure site for surgery.
This person is also involved directly with the surgery and will be present when the surgery is performed. He or she will mark all surgical procedures that involve incisions, punctures or insertion of instruments. He or she will take into account the surface, lesion to be treated, mark the surgical site and make a note of the laterality. The practicioner will mark the surgical site with a marker that is sufficiently permanent to remain visible after prepping and draping.
They must also have a defined, alternative process for patients who refuse site marking, or sites where it is impossible to mark such as nasal passages. In the instance of teeth, the name of the tooth is indicated on the documentation and on the radiographs or dental diagram.
The third and final series is a “Time out” before starting the procedure. At this time, a final assessment is made of all the prior series. The time-out is conducted prior to administration of anesthesia.
All other activities are suspended as team members work to confirm that all protocol is met. At this time, all members communicate both visually and verbally regarding any concerns they may have. They confirm patient identity, site location, pre-op preps and prior medication history and interaction, the need for antibiotics and safety precautions.
While this protocol is firmly in place, surgical errors involving wrong site procedures are much more common than health care providers would want us to believe.
Preventions of wrong-site procedures will require a stricter reporting of incidences, new technologies and education thru successful safety procedures. Many of these surgical mistakes may have been avoided by eliminating the shortcuts doctors sometimes feel pressure to take due to hospital costs and rules.
Some healthcare facilities still fail to properly educate the doctors and nurses for the safety procedures and steps required. Often patients enter surgery without the site of the procedure being properly marked, if at all. Sometimes, surgeons resist the surgical site protocol due to egos, over confidence and time restraints. As many hospitals do not enforce the surgical site protocol, some nurses are often intimidated to speak up and possibly challenge the surgeon before or during the surgical procedure.
The surgeon, anesthesiologist, and nursing team should be involved in the surgical prep and procedure so that communication is always open. A copy of the patient’s records and any x-rays should be readily available and reviewed. As patients, it is in your best interest to become pro-active in your care. Mark the spot that you KNOW should be surgically operated on. Make sure your medical team takes that “time out”, checks, and double checks everything!
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a surgical error or wrong site surgery, you need a legal team experienced in this type of medical malpractice lawsuit. To review the circumstances involving your surgical error case and determine if you are entitled to financial compensation please contact our malpractice attorney for a free legal consultation.
You may call our law office for a free legal consultation with one of our "wrong site surgery" attorneys at 301-589-2200, or toll-free at 800-800-1144. Or you can simply fill out our online form below for your free legal consultation today.
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