About that hole we drilled in your skull – it’s on the wrong side

Talk about a big opsie; but don’t you think that people who have spent years going to medical school and then more time specializing would know which side of a person’s skull they’re suppose to be drilling holes in?

Well apparently not according to a 2005 British National Patient Safety Agency alert that was sent to all neurosurgical units. This was done after an audit found there was no standard method of identifying which side the patient was to have surgery done on. Some units would mark the side to have the holes drilled into while others would mark the side not to have any holes made.

So one would think that after the 2005 alert all would be hunky dory – well guess again because another alert has been sent out stating it is still a problem

The brain surgery incidents are among 56 wrong site surgical mistakes reported to the NPSA during 2007 and another 654 reports related to operating list errors where the wrong patient or the wrong operation had been planned.

None resulted in the death of the patient but all were avoidable and in some cases the mistake was not realised until holes had already been drilled through the skull.

The burr holes are necessary to relieve pressure in the skull where the brain has swelled as a result of disease or trauma or to access the brain for delicate surgery

Now Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson has said that wrong site surgery should never happen but hospitals may face stiff penalties when they do. Well I only have one thing to say:

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