The Academy's "Sign Your Site" program has the overwhelming support of members, according to a survey completed last month. More than 88 percent of the respondents believe the program will prevent wrong site surgery.
Launched at the Academy's 1998 Annual Meeting under the direction of S. Terry Canale, MD, Academy second vice president, the education program urges surgeons of all surgical specialties to mark the operative site as part of their pre-surgery routine. A survey of members who attended the meeting and those who did not, found that 40 percent use a skin marker to mark the operative site.
About one-third of the respondents' principal hospitals currently have a "Sign Your Site" or similar program in place. Forty-five percent of the respondents reported their hospitals instituted a "Sign Your Site" or similar program, at least in part, because of the Academy's efforts. About 25 percent expect a similar program to be instituted within the next year.
Last month, a mandatory "Sign Your Site" program was instituted for all surgeries at the Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, according to Andrew Weiland, MD, a member of the Academy's task force that devised the program.
Wrong site surgery is not just an orthopaedic problem that occurs because a surgeon operates on the wrong limb; it's a system problem that affects other surgical specialties. The Academy believes operating on the wrong anatomical site is the result of poor preoperative planning, lack of institutional controls, failure by the surgeon to exercise due care or a simple mistake in communication between the patient and surgeon. Ninety percent of the survey respondents said the program can be used by other surgical specialties.
In mid-1998, the Academy mailed information on the "Sign Your Site" protocol to 19,000 operating room supervisors and surgeons in other specialties.