Faked Surgeries are Rare But Hard to Spot

ABCNews.com—July 25, 2013

Experts say that unless another doctor uncovers the telltale signs of a previous surgery or lack thereof it is nearly impossible for a patient to know whether a surgery has actually occurred. Even other medical professionals who are in the room at the time of surgery can't always say with certainty that the surgeon has performed an intended procedure.

"You can see the surgeon has put the scope in during a knee operation but you can't necessarily tell what's being done because a lot happens very quickly, said Dr. David Mayman, a hip and knee surgeon with Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. "With many simple procedures it would be quite easy to say you have done something and not do it."

Mayman noted that many hospitals have stringent quality control safeguards in place to reduce medical malpractice and error. For example, HSS requires surgeons to take pictures throughout a surgery to back up their operative notes and provide visual evidence of their work. With more complex procedures such as joint replacements, hardware must be procured from a central "materials management" department and then serial numbers and bar codes must be meticulously recorded both in the patient's chart and the hospital's database, Mayman explained.

Before an operation, the surgeon and the medical team are supposed to meet and review a detailed checklist of the procedures being performed. That way, the entire operative team is on the same page and aware of what should be occurring, Mayman said.

Read the full story at abcnews.com.

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