Joint Commission offers new tool for reducing risk of wrong site surgery

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The Center for Transforming Healthcare, the care-improvement arm of the Joint Commission, has announced the availability of a new means for reducing the risk of surgeons operating on the wrong body parts or patients. Called the Targeted Solutions Tool (TST), the system is available to all Joint Commission-accredited hospitals.

The TST helps surgeons and surgical staff evaluate risks in scheduling, preoperative and operating room areas, the Joint Commission stated in a news release. The tool steps its users through a process designed to head off mistakes before they can be made.

Some estimates put the national incidence rate of “wrong site surgery” as high as 40 per week, the Joint Commission said.

The project to develop the tool began in July 2009. Eight organizations collaborating with the center reduced the number of risky surgical cases by 46 percent in the scheduling area, 63 percent in preoperative and 51 percent in the operating room. Several hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers subsequently pilot-tested the TST and saw similar results.

“We know wrong site surgery should never happen, but the problem persists,” said Mark R. Chassin, MD, president of the Joint Commission.

The organization has posted information on the Wrong Site Surgery Project and on the TST.