Readers comment on wrong-site surgery and ADHD

July 4, 2011
‘Fix this side’

Re “Wrong Operation, Doctor” [June 21]: I’ve had three operations this past year, all of them at George Washington University Hospital. Much to my surprise, for the first operation (a hernia repair) the staff asked several times about which side was to be repaired and then the surgeon came in, we went over what was being done and on which side, and then she actually signed the side to be repaired — literally on the right hip joint. I chuckled at this because I’d told several friends that I was going to write notes that said “fix this side” and for the left side I’d write “fix other side.” The same marking process by the surgeon happened with the second and third operations.

I’ve talked to friends and colleagues since these operations and have heard that other hospitals in the area are doing the same thing. I wonder why it hasn’t caught on in other places. It is simple, takes little time, and seems to make it less likely that there could be a mix up in the OR.

Rev. Stanley A. Dubowski, Arlington

From the time I graduated from nursing school in 1959 until 2005, I worked in many different operating rooms and always I asked — and had to hear the patient answer — their name, surgery and side for operation. All of those things, and more, were then checked with the chart and surgical schedule.

During those years I have seen surgeons entering the wrong room, a mistake on the schedule about which side, physicians starting to drape the wrong side of the patient. In one case the consent form had reversed the patient’s and surgeon’s name. In each case I stopped the procedure.

While some physicians were initially annoyed, in the end they were grateful that a mistake had been prevented. The surgeon who complained about the delay in getting a new consent form signed changed his mind when I asked if he really was ready to get on the table and let his patient operate on him.

The nurse in the OR should never be afraid to stop a procedure if something even might not be right.

Marilyn Guterman, Bowie

Living with ADHD

Thank you, Molly Zametkin, for your honest piece about ADHD [“My Label, My Self,” June 28]. My daughter is 7 and has significant ADHD issues and challenges. I am saving your piece for her when she grows up so she can learn from your wonderful example and be proud of exactly who she is!

Lynette Grenier, Rockville

Far too often, articles on ADHD either communicate misinformation or contribute to stigmatizing the condition. We were so happy to see this young adult come forward and tell her story, which captures how ADHD is such a treatable condition. Hopefully, there will be readers who will be encouraged by her story to seek help for themselves. As co-directors of the Adult ADD Resource Center of Washington, we witness that when adults with ADHD are properly diagnosed and treated, they are able to function at the top of their game. Bravo, Molly, for speaking out!

Marilyn Schwartz and Carolyn Angelo, Washington

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