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Time Out Day aims to reduce wrong-site surgeries

Next week, hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers will be raising awareness to the dangers of wrong-site surgeries that happen all the time in the United States. June 11 is National Time Out Day, which is designed to raise awareness to the importance of preventing surgical mistakes caused by performing surgery on the wrong patient or on the wrong site of the body.

During the awareness week, operating room staff members will make more of an effort to make sure they have the correct patient and know what procedure and where to operate before starting surgery.

The Joint Commission Universal Protocol requires operating room staff members to confirm the patient's identity and surgical procedure as well as other important information. However, many hospitals and surgical centers fail to take these steps before every operation. This could be part of the reason why 40 to 60 wrong site surgeries happen every week in the country, according to recent reports. 

Wrong-site surgery is very dangerous and can cause serious complications and even death in patients. If a patient is supposed to have her spleen removed but ends up having a different organ taken out instead, she could suffer serious complications. In addition, the patient would also have to undergo another risky surgery to have the correct operation. This puts the patient at a higher risk for suffering from complications from the surgery like sepsis or developing other complications from being in the hospital. 

Wrong-site surgeries are preventable. Operating room staff members need to take steps to make sure they are operating on the right patient as well as make sure they are doing the appropriate procedure. Not taking these steps can result in fatal consequences for the patient and the hospital could be held liable in a medical negligence lawsuit. 

Source: The Tennessean, "National Time Out Day affirms life-saving procedure," June 2, 2014

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