Going in for surgery is scary enough, but the idea that a doctor might operate on the wrong body part, or the wrong patient, is a nightmare. A new study out of Colorado shows that this happens, even though hospitals have started taking extra steps to avoid it. Roughly six years ago, they adopted the “Universal Protocol." First, nurses and doctors check to make sure they have the right patient and that they’re doing the right procedure. Then, they mark which body part needs surgery. Finally, right before surgery, they do a time-out to verify that everything has been done correctly. Dr. Philip Stahel led the study. He's an orthopaedic surgeon at Denver Health Medical Center and he says that universal protocol isn't working.
(photo by flickr user Dave Parker)