Most wrong-site surgeries could be prevented, study finds

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 8, 2006

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Wrong-site surgery occurs once in about every 113,000 operations, according to an April Archives of Surgery study funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Researchers examined all wrong-site surgeries reported to a large medical liability insurer between 1985 and 2004 and found that of about 1,150 liability claims and nearly 260 surgery-related insurance losses, 40 were due to wrong-site surgery.

Researchers studied 13 of those 40 cases in which medical records were available and found that three-fifths of the errors could have been prevented by following the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations' protocol designed to prevent wrong-site surgeries.

Protocols in place at 25 hospitals examined in the study include marking the correct body part, having the surgeon confirm the site with another health professional before the procedure and confirming the surgical site as part of the patient's informed consent process.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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