Although wrong site surgery is rare, the results can be disastrous and it never should happen. Any type of surgery can become a wrong site surgery. For some, these errors will result in death. Other wrong site surgery victims will suffer a lifetime of poor health or disability. Even for those who do not suffer significant physical harm, the psychological impact can mean avoiding life-saving surgery in the future.
Common types of wrong site surgery include:
- Surgery on the wrong vertebral level of the spine
- Wrong organ removed
- Wrong limb amputated
- Surgery on the wrong side of the body
- Surgery on the correct site/wrong level or area (such as surgery on the correct hand, but the wrong finger)
- Surgery on the wrong patient – can result in reversed procedures where two patients receive the wrong surgery
Surgical errors are preventable. Certain circumstances, such as emergency procedures, which create time pressures or patients having unusual physical characteristics, can contribute to the risk of wrong site surgery. Proper policies and procedures can significantly reduce risks.
Common mistakes and circumstances leading to wrong site surgery include:
- Poor pre-surgery planning
- Inadequate patient assessment
- Failure to observe “time out” before surgery
- X-rays read backwards
- Inadequate site marking procedures
- More than one surgeon involved in a procedure
- More than one procedure or surgical site involved in one surgical session
- Poor communication between surgical team members
- Time pressures
- Failure to communicate with patient or patient’s family before surgery
Surgery on the wrong part of the body or the wrong patient can be devastating. Amputation of the wrong limb can mean the loss of both limbs and a lifetime of disability. Removal of the wrong internal organ can change the outcome from one of improved health to a lifetime of serious health problems and even death. At the very least, victims of wrong site surgery lose faith in health care providers and may avoid life-saving procedures in the future.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of wrong site surgery , please contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation. We’ll review your wrong site surgery claim with you and help you determine how to best proceed.
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