Medical errors are rare and preventable. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) is committed to ensuring patient safety and to decreasing medical errors. Good communication is vital to the physician-patient relationship. Patients need to know about simple but effective ways to ensure that medical errors don't occur.
Good communication is the cornerstone of the physician-patient relationship. Open, honest communication builds trust and promotes healing. It favorably impacts patient behavior, health outcomes, and patient satisfaction.
Patients are more satisfied when they are well informed about treatment options, the course of care, expected outcomes and possible complications. The more a patient knows, the better they are able to face the challenges and changes of joint replacement and other orthopaedic surgeries.
Some tips for patients facing orthopaedic surgery:
- Make sure your doctor gives you information and education about your diagnosis, treatment alternatives and the course of care, especially expectations for surgical outcomes. Discuss risks of surgery and possible complications.
- Don't ever hesitate to ask questions, voice concerns or speak up when you do not understand.
- Always be honest and complete when you talk with your doctor. Share your point of view and don't hold back information.
Patients need to know simple but effective ways to ensure that surgical errors are eliminated. One method for eliminating incidents of wrong-site surgery calls for patients to watch and confirm as the operating surgeon's initials are signed with a permanent marking pen on the site requiring the operation. The surgeon then operates through or adjacent to the initials. Spinal surgery done at the wrong level can be prevented with an intraoperative X-ray that marks the exact vertebral level (site) of surgery.
The AAOS developed this "sign your site" initiative to prevent errors from occurring in the operating room, including surgery on the wrong site. Wrong site surgery is preventable when an awake and alert pre-operative patient and the surgeon mark the operative site immediately prior to surgery. If this simple routine can prevent just one mistake-it's a step worth taking.
AAOS encourages constructive partnerships between the federal government, hospitals, physicians and other medical providers and personnel to initiate policies that can effectively decrease medical errors. A unified effort among surgeons, hospitals and other health care providers to initiate pre-operative and other institutional regulations can effectively eliminate wrong-site surgery in the United States. AAOS also encourages other surgical and health care provider groups to join the effort, suggesting that operating room nurses and technicians, anesthesiologists, residents and other preoperative allied health personnel should also be involved.
To learn more about ways of partnering with your physician to maximize your surgical outcome, visit the Website of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (http://www.aaos.org). Available resources include:
Your Orthopaedic Connection patient education articles
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
6300 N. River Road
Rosemont, IL 60018