What is Wrong-Site Surgery?

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Wayne D. Parsons with Wayne Parsons Law Office.

What is Wrong-Site Surgery?
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Wrong-site surgery occurs when a doctor or medical professional operates on the wrong part of the patient’s body. A study by Johns Hopkins Medicine has shown that around 20 times a week, surgeons perform the wrong surgery or operate on the wrong part of the body. This can be devastating, both physically and financially. Wrong-site surgeries are considered “never events”, or events that should never happen in the field of medicine and are always the result of medical malpractice.

Medical malpractice is a legal term used to refer to the actions of a healthcare professional or medical facility when they do not exercise a proper standard of care, resulting in the serious injury or wrongful death of a patient. Wrong-site surgeries are one of the most serious types of medical malpractice; if you or a loved one suffered from a wrong-site surgery, reach out to a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options for recovery.

Wrong-site surgeries may occur due to a variety of common mistakes.

One of the biggest errors leading to wrong-site surgery is when a surgeon performs the correct procedure on the wrong side of the body. For example, a patient needs surgery on their left knee but wakes up from anesthesia to find that the procedure was instead performed on their previously perfectly healthy right knee. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality claims that up to half of all wrong-site surgeries consist of wrong-side surgeries.

Another common error occurs when surgery is conducted on the correct part of the body, but the wrong procedure is used. This is thought to often occur due to miscommunication between medical staff. Similar miscommunication has led to a problem with wrong-patient surgeries, where the correct procedure is performed on the correct site, but on the wrong patient. Each of these situations can be extremely harmful; wrong-site, wrong-procedure, and wrong-patient errors are referred to collectively as WSPEs, and they should never occur in a licensed medical environment.

A variety of damages may be applicable for a patient who has suffered from wrong-site surgery.

Individual care providers, hospitals, and even health maintenance organizations (HMOs) may be considered fully or partially liable in the event of a WSPE. While care providers including surgeons, doctors, nurses, and more are required to provide and maintain a certain standard of care, hospitals and HMOs are required to ensure that all employees and medical facilities are sufficiently trained and qualified. Failing to do so can open all of these parties up to liability in the event of malpractice, like wrong-site surgery.

If you or a loved one suffered a wrong-site surgery, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice claim against the negligent party. Medical malpractice claims or lawsuits allow the injured party to seek compensation for the physical, financial, and emotional damages suffered as a result of the negligent care.

Damages which may be sought in a wrong-site medical malpractice include but are not necessarily limited to the following:

  • Past, present, and future medical bills including the cost of corrective surgery, medication, and treatment.
  • Wages lost as a result of hospital-stay time, recovery, and rehabilitation.
  • Impairment of earning capacity in the event that the wrong-site surgery victim will not be able to return to work in the same capacity as before.
  • Cost of life care expenses, including ongoing support for in-home care needs, physical rehabilitation, vocational rehabilitation, therapy, and more.
  • Pain and suffering, for the physical, emotional, and mental distress suffered as a result of the wrong-site surgery.
  • In the event of the wrong-site surgery victim’s death, additional wrongful death damages may be included.

To learn more about the risk of wrong-site surgery or for help filing a claim, reach out to a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.

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