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To Reduce Errors, Cut Here; New Rules Require Doctors to ID Patients, Take 'Time Outs' and Sign Their Work
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Health care industry; Medical errors
Author: Boodman, Sandra G
Date: Jul 6, 2004
Start Page: F.01

Patients who check in to the nation's hospitals have new protections against one of the most devastating and preventable medical errors -- surgery on the wrong body part. Rules imposed July 1 by the agency that accredits most of the nation's hospitals, as well as some surgery centers, will require specific actions designed to prevent wrong-site surgery.

"This kind of mistake should never happen," said Russell Massaro, JCAHO's executive vice president for accreditation operations. While human error is inevitable, the solution is to design a system "with redundancies and double-checks," Massaro said.

To monitor compliance with the new rules, commission inspectors will audit charts at random and talk with patients and staff at hospitals JCAHO accredits, Massaro said. In addition, hospitals that report a wrong-site error to the commission will be required to devise a corrective plan and demonstrate that it works.

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