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Friday, May 9, 2008

Put it in writing: Wrong site knee surgery

A surgical team at a southern California hospital made repeated errors that led to a patient operation on the wrong knee, according to a state investigation that was just made public. Even after the patient noted what knee needed surgery, the surgical team still performed the operation on the wrong side, the report says.

The surgery schedule incorrectly indicated that the patient was to have surgery on the right knee. During a preoperative interview, the patient told a nurse the surgery was for the left knee. That nurse then notified the anesthesiologist and the surgeon about the correction.

Hospital records show the word "right" was crossed out and the word "left" was written in by hand, according to the state report.

Another nurse told state investigators that the left knee was marked for surgery but she incorrectly prepared the right knee for surgery. The patient was not asked to verify the correct knee, nor was the patient's history reviewed before the surgery, as called for in the hospital's protocol, the report says.

Before the surgery, the surgeon read out loud that the surgery was for the right knee.

The error was discovered when the patient woke up in the recovery room and pointed out the mistake, the report says.

Advice: Put it in writing. On your own skin, write "the right place to operate" and "do not operate here" on the wrong place, before surgery.

Read another wrong site surgery story.

Thanks to Courtney Perkes for the source story in the May 7 issue of the Orange County Register.

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