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How to Avoid Being the Victim to Hospital Mistakes

The Joint Commission, the body that accredits hospitals, reports that wrong-site, wrong-side, and wrong-patient procedures happen at least 40 times each week in the United States.

Performing a procedure on the wrong side of a patient’s body, performing the wrong procedure, or performing the correct procedure on the wrong patient are some of the worst medical mistakes that healthcare professionals can make. Fortunately, there are some steps that you can take so this doesn’t happen to you if you undergo a medical procedure.

What is a “WSPE”?

A WSPE is a procedure that’s been performed:

  • on the wrong side of the patient;
  • at an incorrect site; or
  • at an incorrect level of the body.

It can also be a procedure that’s performed:

  • on the wrong patient; or
  • is the wrong procedure.

Of these types of mistakes, wrong-side/wrong-site surgery happen most frequently; however, wrong-side anesthetic procedures also happen. And cases continue to occur outside the operating room (OR) in nearly all areas of health care. These WSPE errors might be the result of different causes, but they frequently have a root error pathology related to ambiguous and imprecise identification. This is usually based on communication breakdowns or lack of safety systems that could’ve prevented such errors.

How Can I Prevent a WSPE?

To help from receiving the wrong surgery, follow these guidelines:

  1. State your name and why you’re there. Tell the medical staff, “My name is Bill Jones, my date of birth is October 10, 1969, and I’m here for an appendectomy.” You might feel a little foolish, but you should say this to every doctor, nurse, and technician who takes care of you. Let them know, so you’re certain that everyone is one the same page.
  2. Say: “Please check my ID bracelet.” Hospital staff is supposed to confirm your identity in at least two ways: one of these is to check your ID or scan it if it has a bar code. Another way is to ask you for your name and date of birth. And you yourself should check your bracelet to make sure the information on it is correct as soon as its placed on your wrist.
  3. Say: “Please look in my chart and tell me what procedure I’m having.” If a nurse says you’re having an appendectomy, and she’s right, that’s not enough, because that nurse probably won’t be assisting the surgeon in the operating room. Make certain the nurse is looking at your chart when she tells you what procedure or test you’re having.
  4. Ask them to mark your surgical site with the surgeon present. Hospitals now will give patients a pen and tells them to mark where they’re going to have surgery. Do this in front of the surgeon who will be with you in the operating room—not just in front of the person who hands you the pen. Some surgeons will write “YES” in bold letters on the correct leg and “NO” on the other. Go ahead and do this, the ink will wash off.
  5. It’s okay to be a little rude. If a nurse asks if you’re Bill Smith and you’re really Bob Smith, don’t be polite and agree. Make sure that they know exactly who you are.

Speak with the Experienced Team at Buchanan Firm 

There are few medical errors that are as devastating as those of patients who have undergone surgery on the wrong body part, undergone the incorrect procedure, or had a procedure that was ordered for another patient. We can help.

Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after hours, at home, or in the hospital to accommodate you.

Contact us today