(DENVER) -- While tougher surgery guidelines have been put into place at hospitals nationwide, a new study from the Denver Health Medical Center found that wrong-site and wrong-patient surgeries continue to happen.
Denver researchers analyzed 27,370 physician-reported adverse events from the Colorado Physician Insurance Company's database. Between January 2002 and June 2008, the study found that Colorado doctors operated on the wrong body part 107 times and performed surgery on the wrong person 25 different times.
Twenty percent of the wrong-patient procedures and 38 percent of wrong-site surgeries caused significant harm to patients. One patient died after the doctor operated on the wrong body part. And the number of occurrences went up from 2002 to 2007.
"I was shocked when I saw the numbers," said Dr. Philip Stahel, lead author of the study and director of Orthopedic Surgery at the Denver Health Medical Center. "I'm not sure if the number of mistakes went up or the reporting of the mistakes went up. Increased vigilance could meet increased reporting."
In 2004 the Joint Commission, a health care advocacy organization, created the Universal Protocol, a global checklist with safety guidelines including a sign-in, recognition of the surgery site, and a time-out to be done before, during and after an operation. The procedures have proven to lower surgical mistakes significantly and save money.
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