A news channel investigation released on March 3rd revealed that Genesis hospitals have been making serious medical mistakes, and somewhat frequently. Specifically, four times in the last 40 days last year, surgeons mistakenly operated on the wrong side of the body; a mistake that, according to medical experts, should really never happen.

According to a letter written by Genesis Health System, practitioners did not always follow mandatory hospital procedures designed to protect patients. One of those crucial protocols is called a “Time Out,” which involves the entire team involved in the surgery pausing before starting the procedure to ensure that all questions or concerns are resolved. During this pause, all team members must reiterate and agree on the correct patient identity, the correct site, and the procedure to be done. If even one team member is changed, another time-out needs to be performed before any procedure begins. It is absolutely key that the entire operating team double-check the patient, procedure, and site, before any cutting begins.

Key Safety Procedures Neglected

Instead, the letter reports that, during the time out, other, distracting activities were occurring in the room, such as music playing. In addition, the patient’s site marking was covered up and a nurse, instead of a physician, led the time-out. On other occasions, the Department of Inspections and Appeals found no written evidence that any time-out had been performed at all.

According to Genesis, the staff members involved in these wrong site surgeries are going through a disciplinary process, however, that doesn’t undo the trauma that the affected patients have been through. In addition, the inspector found that Genesis failed to implement a system to ensure that time outs were performed after these wrong-site surgeries occurred, placing current patients at risk in what is called an “Immediate Jeopardy Situation.”

Wrong Site Procedures

According to a 2013 study, these wrong site surgeries occur approximately 50 times per week across the country. Researchers who have studied them cite a hospital’s “patient safety culture” as determining whether poor planning and not following time outs ultimately leads to these negligent surgical procedures. They have also found that doctors marking their patients slightly differently can also lead to errors; in other words, some doctors use initials, others the word “yes,” etc. Some doctors have, as a result, decided to set one particular standard for an entire hospital. In addition, the study also indicated that some time out procedures had grown to be too complicated, and instead should be simplified to the three traditional steps listed above.

Some of the general recommendations that came out of the study included everyone participating in time outs, ensuring that a patient’s skin marking is visible, and auditing time outs. Facilities that participated in the Joint Commission study managed to cut their risks of wrong site surgeries in half.

Surgery Error Lawyers

When surgery errors take place, they usually have serious consequences, sometimes even including paralysis or death. If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to an error made during surgery, you may be entitled to compensation. At Dana & Dana, we fight for victims of serious injuries or wrongful death. Contact us today for a free consultation.