R.I. hospital fined for surgery error

Wrong operation was fifth since 2007

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island’s largest hospital was fined $150,000 and ordered to install video cameras in all its operating rooms after it had its fifth wrong-site surgery since 2007, state health officials said Monday.

Rhode Island Hospital, the teaching hospital for Brown University’s Alpert Medical School, was fined a second time for wrong-site surgeries, state health director David Gifford said. The hospital also was fined $50,000 after brain surgeons operated on the wrong part of the heads of three patients in 2007. Gifford said his department has issued only two fines – both to Rhode Island Hospital.

Gifford sent a letter and order to hospital CEO Timothy Babineau on Monday.

Babineau said in a statement that the hospital was committed to reducing medical errors and had been taking steps to improve patient safety.

The latest incident last month involved a patient who was to have surgery on two fingers. Instead, the surgeon performed both operations on the same finger. Under protocols adopted in the medical field, the surgery site should have been marked and the surgical team should have taken a timeout before cutting to ensure they were operating on the right patient, the right part of the patient’s body and doing the correct procedure.

Gifford said the surgical team marked the wrist, rather than each finger, and the surgeon did not mark the site himself. The team did not take a timeout before the second surgery.

The order gives the hospital 45 days to install video and audio recording equipment in all its operating rooms.

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