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CINCINNATI -- As surgical infections and medical
errors continue to receive attention and scrutiny in the U.S., patients are
becoming more involved than ever before in the decisions that affect their
care. To help fill the need for more patient education, Ethicon Endo-Surgery,
Inc., has announced a new initiative aimed at empowering patients to take
ownership of their healthcare by arming themselves with information and
knowing what questions to ask before surgery.
"More informed patients are more positive patients and have better
outcomes," said Sheila Allen, RN, BSN, CNOR, CRNFA, recent past-president of
the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), and a national
spokesperson for the Smarter Patient Campaign. "Unfortunately, many patients
do not get the information they need -- either because they are afraid, or
because they do not know what questions to ask. The Smarter Patient Campaign
is a great way to encourage patients to take ownership, and become active
partners in their medical care."
"This campaign provides critical information about surgery and other
procedures that many patients simply do not know," said Terrence Fullum, MD,
FACS, chairman of the department of surgery and director of advanced laparoscopic
Surgery at Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C., and a national spokesperson
for the Smarter Patient Campaign. "Safe, successful surgery involves a team
effort and patients themselves play an important role, right alongside their
surgeons and nurses. Smart patients who ask questions keep everyone on their
The campaign offers patients important advice about things they should
know before surgery -- but may not know to ask. Here are "Five Important
Questions That Every Patient Should Ask Before Surgery:"
1. Are There Other Treatment Options for My Condition? Your surgeon
should be able to tell you what all of your treatment options are, and
why he or she is recommending this particular procedure. For many
procedures, technology and advances in surgery have moved beyond
traditional open surgery to the use of less invasive means. Minimally
invasive alternatives may result in less pain, scarring and recovery
time for the patient. Ask your surgeon whether there are other ways to
treat your condition.
2. Will a Registered Nurse (RN) Be Present in the OR During My Surgery?
The role of a registered professional nurse in the operating room is an
important part of healthcare. Every patient should ask whether an RN
will be present in the operating room throughout the duration of their
3. Will Reprocessed Disposable Instruments Be Used In My Surgery? Some
hospitals reprocess and reuse disposable instruments on multiple
patients as a way to save money, even though they were manufactured for
use on one patient only. Many healthcare professionals are
uncomfortable with this practice. Every patient has the right to
insist that only new instruments are used during their surgery.
4. Am I Receiving the Right Medication? Unfortunately, medication errors
do happen. Make sure your physician knows about all of the medicines
you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs, herbs and
supplements. And ask your doctor or nurse what the medication they are
giving you is for and what it's called. Make sure your doctor or nurse
is checking the five rights before they give you medication: the right
patient, the right medication, the right delivery route, and the right
dose, at the right time.
5. How Will The Surgeon Verify He or She is Performing the Right Surgery
On The Right Place On My Body? Wrong-site surgery accounts for more
than one-third of undesirable events in ambulatory surgery centers, and
nearly one-fifth of undesirable events in the hospital setting
according to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare
Organizations. There are steps patients can take to make sure this
does not happen to them. Ask the operating surgeon to mark the area
that is to be operated upon with his or her initials on the day of
The Smarter Patient Campaign also provides general information about
preparing for surgery, choosing a surgeon, questions to ask, and what to
expect during recovery. The campaign offers an informational guide for
patients, as well as information for clinicians. The campaign urges
healthcare professionals to "Arm Them With More Than Just a Hospital ID
Bracelet." The guides are being distributed to healthcare providers, and are
available on the Internet at: http://www.smarterpatient.com.
An advisory board has been established to provide counsel on the direction
and elements of the Smarter Patient Campaign. The five members of the Smarter
Patient advisory board bring diverse backgrounds in surgery, nursing,
healthcare management, and patient advocacy.
* Sheila Allen, RN, BSN, CNOR, CRNFA, recent past-president of AORN.
* Terrence Fullum, MD, FACS, Director, Advanced Laparoscopic Surgery,
Providence Hospital, Washington, D.C.
* Dean Andrea Lindell, DNSc, RN, Dean of the College of Nursing,
University of Cincinnati.
* Jim Connor, Director of Nursing Finance, All Children's Hospital, St.
* Randy Swatzyna, Financial Advisor, Carilion Health Systems, Roanoake,
Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company headquartered in
Cincinnati, develops and markets a broad portfolio of advanced surgical
instruments for less invasive and traditional surgery. Its mission is to help
physicians around the world transform patient care through innovation. The
company's focus is on designing innovative, procedure-enabling devices for
interventional diagnosis and treatment of various diseases and conditions in
the areas of general and thoracic surgery, breast disease, gynecology, and
Source: Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc.