Preventing Wrong-Site Surgery

When you think of a time out, you probably think football or basketball. However, if you’re a surgery patient, the time out is a whole different ballgame. On Wednesday June 15, 2011, hospitals and surgery centers around the country will be celebrating National Time Out Day. So what is the surgical “time out”?

Wrong-site surgery is a preventable mistake that still happens in operating rooms. What can we do to prevent this from happening? On July, 1 2004, the Joint Commission accreditation agency made the surgical “Time Out” a Universal Protocol. The protocol includes taking a moment prior to the surgery or invasive procedure to confirm the correct patient, correct procedure, correct surgical site, and any other pertinent information such as allergies and available implants/equipment.

As an operating room nurse at Summit and Premier surgery centers in Santa Barbara, I’d like to share the protocol we have in place for the safety of our patients.

When you arrive at our center, you will be greeted by a receptionist who will confirm your identity, your surgeon, and surgery. You will then meet with an RN who will also confirm your identity, your surgeon, surgery site, and any allergies.

The nurse will then have you mark your operative site with your initials. This may be your right knee or left shoulder, for example.

Your surgeon will also meet with you and mark his or her initials on your operative site.

You will also confirm the site with your operating room nurse, anesthesiologist, and surgical technician.

When you are in the operating room and prior to incision, your surgical team members will all take a “Time Out.” Your surgical consent will be read aloud and the team will then view your initials confirming the operative site. Your allergies, available implants/equipment, and any other pertinent data will be mentioned. Now the surgery can commence.

On behalf of all operating room nurses, please join me in supporting and recognizing this national safety initiative to make surgery centers the safest place for your surgical needs.

(Summit and Premier Surgery centers are for-profit ambulatory surgery centers specializing in orthopedic, podiatry, general surgery, and pain management in Santa Barbara.)


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