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Wrong Site Surgery on the Rise
The above headline appeared in USA Today from the April 17, 2006, issue. The story by Robert Davis, starts off by noting that although there have been many years of patient-safety efforts, "a growing volume of healthcare facilities have reported mistakenly removing the wrong limbs or organs, slicing into the wrong side of bodies and performing surgery on the wrong patients."

The original research on this reviewed 2.8 million surgical procedures during a 20-year period and was printed in the April 2006 issue of Archives of Surgery. This study recorded all wrong-site surgery cases reported to a large malpractice insurance company between 1985 and 2004. These studies uncovered 25 wrong-site operations that were identified.

The Joint Commission on Accreditation, a non-profit organization that sets patient safety requirements and guidelines, and inspects more than 15,000 hospitals and surgical centers nationwide received reports from health care facilities last year of 84 operations that involved the wrong body part or the wrong patient.

Dennis O'Leary, who heads the non-profit Joint Commission stated, "It's becoming worse. I can assure you that this is only the tip of the iceberg," O'Leary says. "Many hospitals are reporting everything and some hospitals do not report anything at all."


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