Florida medical board to crack down on wrong-site surgeries

November 1, 2005

Between August 2004 and June 2005, the Florida Board of Medicine adjudicated 41 wrong-site or wrong-patient surgery cases—a number that is just too high, given that these surgeries are considered 100% preventable.

Between August 2004 and June 2005, the Florida Board of Medicine adjudicated 41 wrong-site or wrong-patient surgery cases-a number that is just too high, given that these surgeries are considered 100% preventable. To address the problem, the Florida medical board is increasing efforts to find the root cause of these errors and considering imposing harsher penalties against physicians who commit them.

As of 2001, physicians who perform wrong-site or wrong-patient surgeries had to pay a $10,000 fine, perform 50 hours of community service, and take 5 hours of continuing medical education. Most are also asked to give a lecture about the error and how it occurred, according to Modern Healthcare (8/22/05).

Already, the medical board has implemented a "pause rule," which requires surgical teams to pause before operating and verify that they have the right patient, that they are about to perform the right procedure, and that they are operating on the correct body part. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends another intervention: It urges surgeons to initial, with a marker, the correct limb or side of the body on which they will operate.