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DOH sanctions doc that operated on the wrong finger

July 28, 2010

More than 10 months after Dr.  Edward Akelman performed surgery on a woman’s middle finger instead of her small finger, the health department has reprimanded the surgeon and given him a $500 fine.

Akelman signed a consent order on Monday admitting that he operated on the wrong finger and violated Rhode Island Hospital’s surgical procedures. The mistake was the 5th wrong site surgery at the hospital in three years and made national news.

But according to the compliance order,  it seems the error actually happened because the sites weren’t marked properly-

The staff nurses conducted the pre-operative assessment by confirming the patient identity, and surgical sites on the patient’s right forearm [emphasis mine] per hospital policy.

This description mentions that the nurse marked the ARM of the patient, not the individual fingers, making it unclear where the procedures were supposed to take place.

Akelman was supposed to operate on two fingers on the right hand but he mistakenly performed both procedures on the same finger.  If the individual fingers were marked, this might not have happened.

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