An idea inspired by an anti-shoplifting device may soon be preventing surgeons from operating on the wrong body part. KNBC in LA has the story:
Since 2004, doctors are required to mark the site in consultation with the patient before surgery. But on rare occasions, the wrong body part still gets operated on.
“I thought it was embarrassing to the medical profession and to hospitals to ever have this mistake made. I started thinking about ways we might prevent the error,” said Dr. Richard Chole.
Chole invented a “smart” wristband an inspiration that came from a home improvement store.
“I was buying a tool and there was an anti-theft device in the tool. They deactivated the anti-theft device and I got through the gate without setting off the alarm. I thought why not use that technology,” said Chole.
The wristband works when the doctor marks the site with a pen that has a specialized sticker attached. He then puts the sticker on the wristband to deactivate it. If these steps aren’t followed, and the patient goes into the operating room the detector alerts the staff.
We were surprised to hear that wrong-site surgeries are on the rise — an undocumented claim in this report. Especially given new mandated precautionary “timeouts” to confirm location, we’re not sure the problem is getting worse. And, as gifted surgeon / writer Atul Gawande notes in a recent review:
Wrong-site surgery is unacceptable but exceedingly rare, and major injury from wrong-site surgery is even rarer. Current site-verification protocols could have prevented only two thirds of the examined cases. Many protocols involve considerable complexity without clear added benefit.
We think this complicated pen-sticker-wristband-detector scheme may fall under that category.
More from CheckSite Medical (Dr. Chole of Wash U is the founder)…