Intended for healthcare professionals


Wrong side surgery—the “code of silence”

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 31 August 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:484
  1. Wai Pui Ng, consultant neurosurgeon (
  1. University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

    I first encountered the “code of silence” as a medical student when I witnessed a burr hole made on the wrong side of the head. The embarrassed consultant mumbled something sheepishly, and the incident was never mentioned again. In my subsequent years of training, I observed several more wrong side errors. The consultants seldom acknowledged these mishaps, and the code …

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