Going in for surgery can be unsettling and frightening in and of itself. The last thing patients should need to worry about is whether or not they can trust the surgical team to do its job correctly. For this reason, many hospitals implement a pre-surgery checklist and timeout, which require the surgical team to take a timeout prior to surgery to ensure they have the right patient, are performing the correct operation, and are operating on the correct side of the body.
What types of things do timeouts and checklists cover?
If the team implements them correctly, pre-surgery timeouts and checklists can effectively reduce the risk of making surgical mistakes. According to the British Journal of Anesthesia, over 90 percent of the world’s hospitals use the World Health Organization’s surgical safety checklist as part of their practice. The one-page checklist requires the surgical team to take a timeout and check key points at three stages of care:
- Before anesthesia: They have to confirm the patient’s identity, the surgical site, the procedure, and that they have patient consent. They also have to ensure they have marked the site, that the patient’s pulse oximeter is working, and whether or not the patient has allergies or is at risk for aspiration or blood loss.
- Before incision: Just prior to surgery, the staff should take a timeout to check that all team members have introduced themselves; that the surgeon, nurses, and anesthesiologist all verbally confirm the patient, site, and procedure; and that all team members review the critical steps of the procedure.
- Before leaving the operating room: Prior to signing out of the operating room, the nurses verbally confirm the procedure that took place, that all instruments and sponges are accounted for, they have correctly labeled the patient’s specimen, and that the entire team has the key concerns for recovery and patient management.
What do I do if I have sustained harm from a surgical mistake?
If you are scheduled for surgery and are apprehensive, it is perfectly okay to ask your doctor or surgeon about her checklist and timeout procedures. Being proactive in your care is the best thing you can do to ensure your well-being.
For legal help regarding surgical mistakes, you are welcomed to call our malpractice attorneys at Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer Co., L.P.A. in Ohio. You may be entitled to compensation for injuries – and we can help. Contact us today at 419-843-6663 for a free consult.