Sunday, February 01, 2009

Safe Surgery

Sometimes I put aside an article in the Jordan Times that gives me an idea for a blog posting and usually end up ignoring the urge – too many other things take precedence. However, this morning as I was preparing to throw out my small collection I re-read “New surgical guidelines save lives, boost confidence in hospitals” (January 19th issue), and decided that I needed to comment on it.

I think it was 1964 when my mother-in-law had some relatively minor surgery done in Bethlehem. For the next 11 years she suffered low back pain, repeated urinary track infections, and general discomfort. She shopped for doctors to help her until finally one discovered the problem. During surgery a piece of surgical gauze was left in her bladder! Her surgery took place at least 10 years after I had been inside an operating room and I knew that such things can and do happen. A surgeon must be able to see and sponges are necessary to keep the area clean. Safe guards like sponge counts and gauze with radio opaque thread will eliminate or at least minimize the chance of a sponge being left inside a patient. Certainly a sponge with a radio opaque thread will show up on an x-ray and the poor patient won’t have to wait for 11 years for relief. My mother-in-law confronted the doctor and hospital in Bethlehem without success. They were adamant that they were not at fault or legally responsible. Mistakes do happen, unfortunately, and I do hope that the operating room procedures in that hospital in Bethlehem have improved during the last four decades.

The article in the Jordan Times lists 10 NEW essential objectives for safe surgery. Number 7 reads: The (surgical) team will prevent inadvertent retention of instruments or sponges in surgical wounds. The other nine objectives are equally accepted by the medical profession and have been known and in practice for more than a half century. I presume that the journalist who submitted the article was ignorant of the most basic surgical standards and thought he had some significant news to report. Whatever his motive, his article upset me rather than inspire the confidence that he may have hoped for.


Anonymous kinzi said...

I saw that article and had the same response as your last this is NEWS? The only thing that kept me from blogging something snarky abut it was Gaza.

Sunday, February 01, 2009  
Blogger Tha2ir said...

Indeed, these rules are almost universal to all surgeries, I remember that a surgeon would not close the wound untill all the gauzes that had been counted before operating are counted again to make sure that they're all out. But, we still face medical mistakes regularly, and the problem is that for most of the time, no action will be taken on this issue, it's very difficult to find good eveidence to support any medical law suit here in Jordan

Tuesday, February 03, 2009  

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