"We are extremely concerned about this continuing pattern," Director of Health David R. Gifford expressed in a written statement . "While the hospital has made improvements in the operating room, they have not extended these changes to the rest of the hospital", he rued.
The most recent case occurred last Friday when the chief resident begun brain surgery on the wrong side of an 82-year-old patient's head.
The chief resident carried out a procedure to remove blood that had accumulated between the patient's brain and skull on the left side. The resident, a doctor in his final year of neurosurgery training, started drilling a hole on the wrong side. When he realized his error he completed the procedure on the correct side, the left.
Fortunately the patient is all right, says the health department and hospital .
In February this year , a different doctor performed neurosurgery on the wrong side of another patient's head, gives Andrea Bagnall-Degos, a spokeswoman of the health department, with no untoward effects.
Yet in August, a patient died a few weeks after a third doctor performed brain surgery on the wrong side of his head. This forced the state to order the hospital to take a series of steps to see that such a mistake would not happen again. In addition, an independent review of its neurosurgery practices and better verification from doctors of surgery plans was sought.
In a written statement, Rhode Island Hospital has given that it is working with the Department of Health to lessen the risk of medical errors.
"We have talented, dedicated professionals working hard to provide the best care to our patients, but we clearly need to do more. Our policies and procedures cannot be effective unless every person understands them and follows them to the letter.
"We are committed to continuing to evaluate and implement changes to our policies to help ensure these human errors are caught before they reach the patient," the statement quotes.
Besides this, the hospital says it is re-evaluating its training and policies, giving more oversight, giving nursing staff the power to ensure that procedures are followed, as well as other steps.
In addition to the fine, the state has ordered the hospital to develop a neurosurgery checklist . This would include information about the location of the surgery and a patient's medical history.
There is also a plan to train staff on the new checklist.
Meanwhile the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline and Board of Nursing is also investigating into the matter.