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Safe surgery procedures: Asking and answering questions protects you

  A culture that protects patients promotes teamwork and clear communication. This means that patients and their families have the right to ask questions and get the answers they need to make sure an operation is error-free.
Keeping you safe

"We must be certain each patient is getting the right procedure done every time," says Penny Wheeler, MD, chief clinical officer, Allina Hospitals & Clinics. "If we do one wrong site-surgery or implant one wrong device, it is one too many."

What to expect as a hospital patient

If you have surgery at an Allina hospital, you will be asked many questions and be encouraged to get answers for any questions you have. Such communication helps us make sure you have the right operation in the correct place.

Before surgery, your surgical care team will take these steps:

  • Ask you to give permission to have surgery by signing an informed consent form. Before signing the form, be sure to read it and understand what is planned.
  • Use a special pen to mark where on your body you will be operated on. Please speak up if you're not sure the right site is being marked.
  • Make sure everyone on your care team knows your medical history, including whether you're allergic to any medicine.
  • Confirm they know you by asking your name and checking your hospital identification bracelet.

Before surgery begins in the operating room, each doctor, nurse and technician on your surgical care team will verify exactly what part of your body will be operated on.

Throughout your hospital stay, don't be afraid to ask questions. The operation happened to you, so you and your family have the right to be fully informed.

How is Allina doing?

National safety patient goal: Use universal protocol to prevent wrong-site, wrong-patient, wrong-procedure surgery.

We report on how well our hospitals' safety programs are doing to the Joint Commission, an independent, non-profit agency that sets standards for and accrediting health care.

Visit to see how our hospitals compare to others throughout the nation in safe surgeries and other national safety patient goals.

Minnesota's adverse health events report

Surgery on the wrong patient or wrong body part is among the 29 adverse health events that we report to the Minnesota Department of Health.

In January 2014, the Minnesota Department of Health released the ninth annual adverse health events report. The report documents 43 adverse events at Allina Health hospitals. They included eight surgery events. To look up information about a specific hospital, visit

Preventing wrong-site surgery and eliminating retained objects

We work with other hospital and health care systems to promote safe surgery procedures as part of the Minnesota Hospital Association's quality and safety efforts.

The Minnesota Hospital Association honored these Allina Health hospitals with Patient Safety Excellence Awards for their efforts to prevent surgical errors:

Return to rating patient care, safety and satisfaction Rating patient care, safety and satisfaction


Source: Allina Hospitals & Clinics Quality Council; American College of Surgeons, What is correct-site surgery?; American College of Surgeons, Giving your informed consent

First published: 08/29/2008
Last updated: 01/28/2011

Reviewed by: Nancy Kielhofner, director of quality / patient safety, worker's compensation and safety, Allina Hospitals & Clinics


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