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Over the last few days we’ve been looking at the three elements in the standard of care for avoiding wrong-site surgeries. The first element is establishment of a pre-operative verification process. The second element is a pre-surgical marking of the spot.

And the third element, the focus of today’s post, is the “TIME OUT.” Before each surgical procedure begins, the surgical team is supposed to call a “time out” to confirm the patient’s identity and the procedure to be performed, including the correct side and site..

For example, before a surgery, the surgeon should announce that “This is Fred Jones. He is here to undergo a replacement of the anterior cruciate ligament in his right leg. Does everyone agree with that?”

If there is any disagreement about the answer to the “time out” questions then the procedure should not be performed until the questions are resolved.

The “time out” is to be performed in the surgical room and must include the entire surgical team. The facility must also have a protocol established to resolve any differences or disputes about the answer to the “time out” questions.

And that’s the three-step protocol for avoiding wrong-site surgery. It seems simple enough, yet wrong site surgeries still remain prevalent. Why? We’ll look into some of those reasons in the future.

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