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Why surgeons mark their patients

On Behalf of | Sep 12, 2022 | Medical Malpractice

Before a surgeon begins an operation, they will often mark their patient first. This may be done with a permanent marker. Surgeons will write different things, or it could be as simple as drawing an X on the spot where the surgery will take place.

The main reason that they do this is to give them one final check that they’re operating in the right location and on the right patient. For example, some surgeons who are operating on a person’s knee will take the time to write “Yes” and “No” on the left and right knees. The documentation should certainly tell them which side they need to work on, but this simple mark on the site could help to prevent a serious mistake.

Talking to patients

When doing this, it’s important to discuss the procedure with the patient. The mark should be made when the patient can also confirm that it’s the right location. This way, if there are errors in the documentation or if the surgeon makes a mistake, the patient themselves may be able to call attention to it.

It’s also very important for doctors to make these marks at the specific site where they’re going to be working. If working on a limb, for example, the mark shouldn’t be higher or lower on that limb. It needs to be very obvious what the mark tells the medical team and where they are supposed to operate.

Mistakes can still happen

This can help to eliminate some mistakes, but they do still happen. These medical errors can have a massive impact on the rest of your life, so be sure you understand your options if this happens to you.