New Campaign Urges Patients to Speak Up for Safer Surgery


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:

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.

Petersburg, Fla.

* 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.

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