Wrong side of surgery: Which site?

in Medicine/Orthopedics/Training by

Although rare, wrong site surgery happens even to the most able and busy OR team such as in this hospital. Imagine the horror of both the OR team and the patient discovering the closure stitches in the normal side after the procedure. But thats another story.

What I’m a bit surprised is how the hospital administration managed to “rectify” the error and came out with better policies to prevent future incidents like this to happen. Their CEO even blogged about it, so the whole community would know about the lapses, the steps taken to correct it, and prevent further “errors” to happen in the same way.

I can help but wonder if most of our health institutions here in our country have the same attitude towards wrong site surgery and medical errors. A universal protocol for wrong site surgery has been existing and updated regularly for quite sometime already. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) also had its recommendations to reduce surgical sites error in orthopedics. Most of the stories I hear in our country from the gossip tree end up in long, expensive court duels. And even with the pay off, none of the parties learned anything (but money and pride) from the mistakes which should have been preventable in the first place!

Not to be over simplistic about this but parallelisms can be drawn between mistakes like this one and that of mistakes done on people you care of. Admission is a braved act. Facing the consequences is an even braver act. But taking actions to prevent such errors from happening is a mark of a true caring physician. That is how we deal with people we care. To us physicians, that would be our patients.

Dr. Remo-tito Aguilar co-founded #HealthXPh. A board certified orthopedic surgeon, he is Chief of Clinics at General Santos Medical Center and Medical Specialist II Orthopedics at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. Dr. Aguilar is a healthcare social media evangelist and writes his medical musings at The Cast & Curious (www.remomd.com).