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Recently, I wrote about Rhode Island Hospital’s fifth wrong site surgery since January 2007, where doctors operated on the wrong finger of a patient. After conducting an investigation, the Rhode Island Health Department has levied a fine of $150,000 against the Hospital, citing that the surgical team violated safety policies when it performed the incorrect operation on October 22nd.

According to investigation reports, the surgical team failed to mark the correct fingers and also failed to follow the rules for a “time out”, which is a pause before beginning a surgery to verify the patient, and ensure the correct procedure and operating site. Furthermore, the Hospital also failed to follow new error-prevention protocols instituted in Rhode Island on July 1.

Along with the fine, Rhode Island Hospital will also be required to install video cameras and audio equipment in all its operating rooms within 45 days. All surgeons will be taped at least twice a year. However, the Hospital can decide if it will inform the doctors in advance that they will be monitored during a particular surgery. Moreover, the Health Department will also require the Hospital to assign a clinical employee who is not part of the surgical team to observe all surgeries at the hospital for at least one year to ensure that doctors are marking sites to be operated on and taking a time out prior to starting a surgery.

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