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Surgical Precautions

Wrong-Site Surgeries

We’ve all heard the horror stories about hospitals mistakenly amputating the wrong leg or removing the wrong kidney.

These events are actually extremely rare—roughly one case out of every 1.5 million surgeries—but safety experts have developed a way to eliminate them entirely. It’s called the Universal Protocol, and it’s like a fail-safe procedure for verifying and confirming patient identity and scheduled procedure at all critical points in the process. At NEBH, we use the Universal Protocol for all surgeries, as well as other invasive and radiological procedures.

What we do to prevent wrong-site surgeries

  • We’ll ask you repeatedly to confirm your identity by stating your name and date of birth.
  • We’ll ask you to repeatedly confirm the intended procedure and site of your procedure.
  • Our attending surgeons will ask you to assist in marking your body to confirm the proper location for the procedure, after which the surgeon will initial the site. (For some procedures, such as spine surgeries, it may not be possible for you to assist in marking the site. In these cases, special diagnostic equipment will be used to identify the location of the procedure.)
  • Immediately before each surgery, your health care team will conduct a "time out" period, during which they’ll review the procedure to be conducted and check it against the documentation.

What you can do to prevent wrong-site surgeries

  • State your name and date of birth when asked
    If a member of your health care team asks you to repeat your name and date of birth, remember that this request is part of our rigorous safety program. Your cooperation helps us ensure your safety.
  • State the name of your procedure when asked
    Understand that the only reason we keep asking you to state your intended procedure and surgical site is to protect you.
  • Check your consent form
    When you sign the informed consent form, be sure that it correctly states the name of the procedure that you understand will be performed.
  • Speak up!
    The Joint Commission and other health care improvement organizations recommend that patients speak up if they have questions about whether a procedure is appropriate. Please do let us know if you disagree with a health care provider about anything.