Medical procedures and surgeries on the wrong patient and wrong body part have declined substantially at Veterans Affairs hospitals nationwide, while reports of close calls have increased, according to a study that credits ongoing quality improvement efforts.
During the 42 months studied, there were 101 medical errors and 136 close calls, out of more than half a million procedures.
The VA's quality improvement efforts encourage that kind of openness. Veterans facilities also are among hospitals that have adopted pilot-style checklists, where a member of the operating team reads off things like the patient's name, the type of procedure, anesthesia and tools needed. Body parts to be operated on are marked, and team members are supposed to speak up if something doesn't sound right. Patients, too, are sometimes involved before being wheeled into the operating room.
Tips for patients on avoiding surgery mistakes: http://bit.ly/qnLuX6