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Why do you have to circle your surgery site with a marker?

On Behalf of Cronin & Maxwell

The technology utilized after, during and even before modern surgeries is often mind-boggling. There are robotic systems that can do the entire operation on their own and imaging tests that can allow doctors to pinpoint the location of a tumor. One of the more common preparatory steps before surgery can seem positively primeval compared to all of that cutting-edge technology.

Before your operation, there’s a good chance that your surgeon or someone on their team will come to your hospital room and have you mark the location of your procedure. They might have you put dots around an area, draw lines, make an “x” or even circle part of your body with a permanent marker. Why are markers part of the surgery prep process?

Surgeries on the wrong location are still a common type of medical error

Whether you need a kidney removed or corrective surgery, you would expect that the surgeon will treat the appropriate body part. However, for dozens of people every month, coming out of anesthesia means realizing that their doctor operated on the wrong location.

A wrong-site surgery has many negative consequences for a patient. Not only will they still need to undergo the original procedure as intended, but it could require a lot of money and effort to address the damage done by the surgery performed inappropriately. Having a patient mark their body can help reduce the chances of the surgeon making a mistake about the location.

Surgical mistakes are among the most catastrophic yet preventable of all the kinds of medical malpractice. Understanding the more common surgical mistakes can make you a better advocate for yourself when you need medical care.

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