The hospital has been fined $50,000 and has received a reprimand from the state Department of Health. In this most recent instance, the patient was 82 years old. Fortunately, the patient was unhurt by the mistake. However, in one of the previous instances of this mistake at this hospital, the patient died as a result.
Rhode Island Hospital has said that it will be conducting a review of its procedures and implementing reforms. One such reform would be to allow nurses greater power in ensuring that procedures are followed correctly. Another would be to mandate better verification of surgery plans, which would require better communication between surgeons and other doctors. These reforms highlight a major factor in averting medical errors: teamwork. The multiple healthcare professionals involved in taking care of a patient need to be empowered to speak up if they see something going wrong. They also need to know what the others are doing, and to make sure that they are not acting contrary to the recommendations and instructions of other healthcare providers. Performing a surgery on the wrong side of the head is only one possible thing that could go wrong in the absence of communication. Another example would be giving a patient medications that, combined with medicine the patient is already taking, could cause problems. Such errors can be minimized through proper communication between healthcare professionals.
For more information: When Surgeons Cut the Wrong Body Part