Friday, December 21, 2007

Cut Along Dotted Line

Photo of Civil War surgeon's kit from National Park Service.

One type of medical error (not necessarily common, but who wants it even once?) is operating on the wrong site (left leg instead of right, pinkie instead of ring finger, appendix instead of ovaries). In response, the health care industry has adopted a Universal Protocol for Preventing Wrong Site, Wrong Procedure, Wrong Person Surgery.

For more on this issue see James W. Saxton & Maggie M. Finkelstein, Can Adhesive Labels Prevent Wrong Site Surgery and Reduce Liability Risk?, 12 Widener L. Rev. 293 (2005). Mr. Saxton and Ms. Finkelstein are litigators (based in Lancaster, PA) who represent doctors, hospitals, and long-term care facilities.

See also Cases of 'Wrong-Site Surgery' Are Rare, Medicine Online, April 20, 2006 (reporting study by Dr. Mary R. Kwaan of 20 years of malpractice insurance records). Hear also Wrong Site Surgery Is Rare, Healthcare 411, April (audio interview with Dr. Kwaan; transcript is here).

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