In 2007 investigative reporters from The Patriot News of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania reported that studies have shown that surgeons at hospitals in the state operated on the wrong limb or body part one hundred and seventy four times during a recent eighteen month period. This information was provided by the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority which released the figures as part of an effort to prevent future surgical mistakes and medical errors.
The Patriot News reported that Dr. Stan Smullens, the Vice President of PPSA and Chief Medical Officer at the Jefferson Health System in Philly said that near misses happen every other day.
Many hospitals have put rules in place to ensure safety and to prevent surgical mistakes and medical errors. For example, many now require several healthcare workers to independently verify the proper limb or body part for surgery prior to the procedure beginning. Many hospitals have adopted similar nationally accepted procedures intended to eliminate surgical mistakes including the marking of surgical sites with indelible ink and consulting with the patient prior to sedation. Karp and Hart suggests that if you are having surgery on a particular portion of the body, that you have a friend with you who can identify the site and write with an indelible marker on your own body “No” or “Wrong Site” on the opposite limbs to help prevent surgical mistakes and medical errors from occurring.