Wrong site surgeries have not declined despite universal protocol

Despite a universal protocol issued by the Joint Commission in 2004, wrong site surgeries still exist, and may be on the rise, according to The Washington Post. 

The article states that since the implementation of the Joint Commission’s universal protocol, which includes confirming all critical patient information before surgery, marking the procedure site, and performing a timeout, wrong site surgeries may be on the rise.  The Joint Commission estimates that wrong-site surgeries occur 40 times a week in U.S. hospitals and clinics. Studies of wrong-site errors found that often, there is not a timeout before the procedure. 

To reduce error rates, experts recommend that government and hospital officials establish tougher reporting rules and increase transparency. Medicare, and many private insurers currently requires reporting and will not pay for wrong-site surgery, and  Medicaid has announced a similar policy, which will be put in place in 2012.

(Sources: The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com, June 21, 2011; The Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, June 21, 2011)