Joint Commission project aims to reduce wrong-surgery risks

Waking up with the wrong kidney removed is a horror story that’s played out countless times in North American hospitals. Surgeons will most likely walk into your operating room, ask you which body part and which side, and then scrawl your body with markers. Still, errors occasionally happen.

The Joint Commission unveiled a Targeted Solutions Tool to help physicians and hospitals spot one of 29 problems that can lead to an incorrect procedure. The commission’s Center for Transforming Healthcare tested the safety tool at eight U.S. hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers.

Initial figures pose that facilities using the tool see an decrease in wrong-site procedures by 63% in pre-op, 51% in the operating room and 46% in the scheduling area. Because wrong-site surgeries are so rare, the risks of such procedures — rather than their occurrence — was measured for quality-improvement purposes. The new strategy is meant to be used in conjunction pre-op verification, site-marking and time-out process known as the universal protocol.