Color coding to prevent wrong laterality

Luke Perkins - May 30th, 2020

The easiest mistake to make when performing surgery is to operate on the wrong side, for example confusing the left knee with the right knee. In fact, the majority of wrong site surgery (WSS) errors are classified as wrong side, ranging from 70% to 81% of overall events. (Seiden 2006; Clarke 2007).

A recommended practice for orthopedic surgeons is to "Sign Your Site", marking their initials on the part of the body that it intented for surgery. But accidents still occur.

It is also known that colors can help the brain process information and is frequently used in safety applications. Color theorists believe that color influences cognition and behavior through learned associations. When people repeatedly encounter situations where different colors are accompanied by particular experiences and/or concepts, they form specific associations to colors. (Mehta 2009)

So color coding is another way that surgical safety can be improved, associating laterality with a particular color.

Learn more about Wrong Site Surgery.

Find out how the StartBox System uses color to avoid wrong laterality surgery.

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