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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

Patient participation in surgical site marking: can this be an additional tool to help avoid wrong-site surgery?

Bergal LM, Schwarzkopf R, Walsh M, et al. Journal of patient safety. 2010;6:221-5.

Wrong-site surgeries remain a persistent safety issue, despite extensive efforts by regulatory bodies and professional societies to address the problem. One such intervention, initially adopted by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, requires surgeons to sign the site of the surgery by marking the site of the operation on the body. This initiative has been less successful than hoped. In this study, investigators attempted to engage patients in safety by having patients themselves sign the site. Unfortunately, fewer than 70% of patients successfully followed the instructions and successfully marked the incision site. While only a few patients committed an overt error (i.e., signing the wrong site), the suboptimal adherence in this study indicates that site marking protocols may not benefit from increased patient engagement.