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Procedure recommended to prevent wrong-sided blocks

Patients who are scheduled for surgical procedures in New York hospitals may be dismayed to learn that wrong-sided anesthetic blocks still occur and even often go unreported. Even though these medical mistakes are not as severe as other surgical errors, they still can cause complications, and thus preventing them should be a focus.

At a North Carolina hospital, a 59-year-old woman was scheduled to have a total knee arthroplasty in her right knee. She was to have an anesthetic block in her sciatic nerve and in her spine. Prior to be given the block, the surgeon, following proper procedure, initialed the spot on the inside of the knee where the block was supposed to go. When the anesthesiologist came in to give the block, it was found that the initials had transferred to the other knee as the patient was being moved and her knees rubbed together.

To prevent these types of accidents from occurring, an improved procedure was instituted. The surgical site should be cross-checked with the patient's electronic medical records. The anesthesiologist should the mark the site with the word "BLOCK." This marking should be in view at all times while the block is being placed. Before the block is placed, the nurse should re-timeout. Once all of the steps are completed, the block can be given.

Surgical mistakes of any nature can cause serious complications that can have an impact on the person's quality of life and recovery time. If the mistake was caused by negligence, a medical malpractice attorney may help the patient seek compensation for the additional medical expenses that were required to correct it as well as other losses through the filing of a lawsuit against the at-fault practitioner and facility.

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