From news of the weird: Wrong-sided surgery


Admittedly, this is not where I usually look for information on medical quality and safety measures – but this case, as presented in News of the Weird for this week deserves mention:

Neurosurgeon Denise Crute left Colorado in 2005 after admitting to four serious mistakes (including wrong-side surgeries on patients’ brain and spine) and left Illinois several years after that, when the state medical board concluded that she made three more serious mistakes (including another wrong-side spine surgery).

Nonetheless, she was not formally “disciplined” by either state in that she was permitted merely to “surrender” her licenses, which the profession does not regard as “discipline.” In November, Denver’s KMGH-TV reported that Dr. Crute had landed a job at the prestigious Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, where she treats post-surgery patients (and she informed Illinois officials recently that she is fully licensed in New York to resume performing neurosurgery). [KMGH-TV, 11-4-2012]”

This is an excellent example of the importance of the ‘Time-out” which includes ‘surgical site verification’ among all members of the surgical team.  This also shows some of the limitations in relying on the health care professions to police themselves.  Does this mean that I can absolutely guarantee that this won’t happen in any of the operating rooms I’ve observed?  No – but it does mean that I can observe and report any irregularities witnessed (or deviations from accepted protocols) – such as ‘correct side verification’ or failure of the operating surgeon to review medical records/ radiographs prior to surgery.

It also goes to show that despite lengthy credentialing processes and the reputations of some of the United States finest institutions are still no guarantee of quality or even competence.

What about Leapfrog?

This comes at the same time as the highly controversial Leapfrog grades are released – in which medical giants like UCLA and the Cleveland Clinic received failing marks.  (UCLA received an ‘F” for avoidable patient harm, and the Cleveland Clinic received a “D”.)

Notably, the accuracy of the Leapfrog scoring system has been under fire since it’s inception – particularly since the organization charges hospitals for the right to promote their score.

But then – as the linked article points out – so do most of the organizations ‘touting’ to have the goods on the facilities such as U.S. News and Reports and their famed hospital edition.

Guess there aren’t very many people like me – that feel like that’s a bit of a conflict of interest..

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