A voluntary initiative by Rhode Island’s hospitals to prevent wrong-site and wrong-patient surgeries is partly the result of a state health department reprimand that one of the area’s largest hospitals received last October for a wrong-site knee surgery, healthcare officials acknowledged.
R.I. looks to right wrongs
Plan an indirect result of wrong-site surgery: officials
“This initiative started before that happened,” said Kathleen Hittner, president and CEO of 247-bed Miriam Hospital, Providence, R.I., which received the reprimand. “But I would say the experience we had helped move it along. It directed urgency towards” developing the protocol, she said.
The program was implemented July 1 at all 14 Rhode Island hospitals, making the state the first to have voluntary adoption of a uniform surgical safety protocol, healthcare officials said. The statewide program follows a wrong-site knee surgery first reported by Miriam last September that resulted in a state health department reprimand and a signed consent agreement by the hospital to correct the procedural problems that led to the incident, according to a Rhode Island Health Department news release.
Both the Joint Commission and World Health Organization have developed voluntary surgical safety protocols that U.S. hospitals have been encouraged to adopt. But Hittner, who also chairs the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, which spearheaded development of the new protocol, said Rhode Island health officials opted to create a unique set of protocols in an effort to ensure unanimous adoption of the program. “What we tried to do was focus on that last bit before a surgery begins and say, ‘What can we do to ensure that the right surgery is being done on the right patient in the right location?’ ” Hittner said.
Developed by a 17-member statewide committee composed of providers and medical professional organizations, the protocol includes a briefing process—which requires providers to verify the surgical-site marking; properly identify the patient and procedure; and confirm the use and availability of medication, diagnostic test and other pertinent information—and a time-out process during which the operating room staff reviews and confirms the briefing process checklist.
It’s basically all the hospital CEOs “recognizing that although in the past valiant efforts have been made to enhance patient safety, we need additional safeguards as well as executive support in order to do something that all hospitals could agree on,” said Sandra Coletta, chairwoman of the Rhode Island Patient Safety Collaborative and president and CEO of 320-bed Kent Hospital in Warwick, R.I.
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