Going Places
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Aug 28, 2002
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I was reading about malpractice cases and it seems as though the majority of cases involve operating on the wrong side.

How can a physician put the x ray backwards? isn't there some sort of label that says "RIGHT SIDE UP"?

In addition, for those who have particpated in a surgical procedure, the pads that they use during surgery...how do they keep count of it? I mean what if the pad is left in the person's body. Do the nurses keep count of that stuff?

Also, during an emergency, how long does it take for the surgeon to wash his hands and put on his gloves?

And are there any other hospital problems or concerns that you guys have experienced besides the fact that hospitals are the most dangerous places cuz you can get deadly infections there?



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Oct 16, 2001
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The technician taking the film should always place a marker showing not only which side is which, but also if the patient is sitting, standing, or lying down. With respect to which side is which, many surgeons inspect the patient the morning of the procedure, and in some cases (a knee replacement for example) will put their initials on the side the procedure is to be performed on, and write "NO" on the other side. As for sponges, there are very detailed procedures for counting them in, and out. However, retained surgical sponges (a condition called gossypiboma) are still a underreported and underdiagnosed condition. All of these issues involve human error, so no matter what procedures are in place, mistakes (and lawsuits) will still happen.


life is good
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They keep count of how many gauzes, sponges, etc. are "out" (how many left the circulation table). They count all that are given to the surgeon, and they count them again as they are returned.

Standard surgical scrub is 2.5 minutes per arm. Some centers use 5 minutes per arm (rare). The scrubless soap stuff is only 90 seconds per arm, but you have to repeat it. So it may take 10 minutes to change into scrubs, wash, and then gown and glove yourself.

So, are you an attorney or a family member seeking info for a lawsuit? Your questions sound suspicious.
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Ceder Dog's Daddy
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I agree with Geek Medic re: suspicious questions but they sounded too simple for an attorney so I am going with high school kid trying to get out of really researching before doing their report or family member.


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The doctors and nurses are people, and therefore succeptible to errors. Most of the scrub nurses I've had the pleasure to meet are quite particular about counting everything, and pre-op nurses won't let a patient out until the patient is marked. There are many checks on right patient, right procedure, and right place. Surgical teams work hard to develop and maintain systems to prevent accidents. Medicine has a bit of a harder time because the environment isn't as controllable, however people still work hard to prevent accidents.
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