AAOS: Patient self-advocacy can reduce surgical errors

October 28, 2010

In response to a recent study detailing occurrences of surgical errors, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons this week highlighted steps (.pdf file) patients can take to ensure their safety before surgical procedures.

Rosemont, IL-based AAOS recommends talking honestly with your doctor about your health, expressing questions or concerns about surgery ahead of time, understanding medications and potential interactions, and making sure surgeons mark the correct surgical site prior to the procedure.

AAOS further points out that the risk of surgical error in orthopaedic surgery is relatively low. The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery in Chapel Hill, NC, has collected national data for the past 12 years of more than 1 million orthopaedic surgeries, and only 71 involved a surgery conducted on the wrong site.

"Any number more than one means a mistake occurred," said Shepard Hurwitz, executive director of ABOS. "However, 71 out of 1 million is a very low percentage of incidence."