Rhode Island Hospital Cited for Wrong-Knee Surgery

The Rhode Island Health Department has found that a surgical team that operated on the wrong knee of a patient at The Miriam Hospital failed to visually verify which knee needed the procedure.

The mistake occurred Sept. 19 during a knee arthroscopy, a procedure in which doctors insert a pencil-sized camera into the knee to diagnose what’s wrong.

The surgeon learned of the mistake after the surgery was complete and then went back and operated on the correct knee.

The department said the hospital had signed a consent agreement calling for it to change pens used to mark the surgery site so that the markings cannot be washed off during preparation for the surgery.

“It’s our agreement that we will work to remedy the issues that have been raised,” hospital spokeswoman Linda Shelton said last Friday.

She said “there has been appropriate disciplinary action against those involved,” but declined to elaborate.

The hospital also has agreed to fix several problems related to “time-outs,” the period just before the surgery begins when hospital staff verify the correct patient and surgical site.

The Miriam Hospital, in Providence, is part of Lifespan, a medical network that was reprimanded and fined $50,000 last year for three mistaken surgeries at another of its facilities. Lifespan revised its policies following a string of wrong-site surgeries at Rhode Island Hospital, a teaching facility for Brown University’s medical school.