Rhode Island hospitals agree on same safety protocol for surgeries

Accreditation Connection, July 6, 2009

Rhode Island will become the first state to have all surgical providers adopt a uniform protocol to prevent errors in surgery, according to The Providence Journal. The new protocol will detail new rules intended to prevent wrong-site surgeries that have embarrassed local hospitals in past years. It will also lower the risk of confusion for nurses and doctors that work at more than one hospital.

The protocol, developed over an 18 month consultation with hospital and health-care leaders and the Joint Commission. Staff members will be trained by lectures and a video, and will force operating-room nurses and surgeons to change the way they work. On top of this, staff members will also develop ways to make sure the protocol is properly adopted and understood around the state. With 12 hospitals and 21 surgical centers following the protocol, it is expected to take a year before every organization has trained staff members and fully implemented the new rules.

Since 2007, five wrong-site surgeries have been reported in the state of Rhode Island, and most other medical errors have not been a cause due to inadequate procedures, but from failure to follow them.

"That's another challenge that the hospitals in Rhode Island will have to work on," said Mark Crafton, the Joint Commission's executive director for state and external relations. "How do you take a good checklist and make sure that it's actually embedded in the operating procedures?"

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