Wrong-site surgery is a never event and a serious, preventable patient safety incident. Within the United Kingdom, national guidance has been issued to minimize the risk of such events. The mandate includes preoperative marking of all surgical patients. This study aimed to quantify regional variation in practice within general surgery and opinions of the surgeons, to help guide the formulation and implementation of a regional general surgery preoperative marking protocol.
A SurveyMonkey questionnaire was designed and distributed to 120 surgeons within the Mersey region, United Kingdom. This included all surgical trainees in Mersey (47 registrars, 56 core trainees), 15 consultants, and 2 surgical care practitioners. This sought to ascertain their routine practice and how they would choose to mark for 12 index procedures in general surgery, if mandated to do so.
A total of 72 responses (60%) were obtained to the SurveyMonkey questionnaire. Only 26 (36.1%) said that they routinely marked all of their patients preoperatively. The operating surgeon marked the patient in 69% of responses, with the remainder delegating this task. Markings were visible after draping in only 55.6% of marked cases.
Based on our findings, surgeons may not be adhering to “Good Surgical Practice”; practice is widely variable and surgeons are largely opposed and resistant to marking patients unless laterality is involved. We suggest that all surgeons need to be actively engaged in the design of local marking protocols to gain support, change practice, and reduce errors.
From the *Department of Breast Surgery, Countess of Chester Hospital, Chester; and †Department of General Surgery, Whiston Hospital, Prescot, United Kingdom.
Correspondence: Sonia Bathla, FRCS, Countess of Chester Hospital, Liverpool Rd, Chester, CH2 1UL (e-mail: email@example.com).
The authors disclose no conflict of interest.