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Wrong Site Surgery


Doctors are not perfect. While most do their best to help patients, mistakes happen. Many, however, are errors that should never happen. These “never events” include wrong site surgery.  Wrong site surgery occurs when a surgical procedure is performed on the wrong body part, wrong side of the body (left arm vs. right arm, for example) or the wrong patient.

Wrong site surgery is one of the most common sentinel events, behind patient suicide, surgical complications and medication errors. A sentinel event is defined as any unanticipated event in a healthcare setting that results in serious injury or death, and is not a natural part of the patient’s disease.

Wrong site surgery is usually a culmination of multiple small errors. These errors may include safety issues, errors with booking, lack of verification, inconsistent site marking, distractions and time out errors. Because so many mistakes can happen during surgery, facilities must be aware of what can potentially happen and take the necessary measures to prevent these issues from occurring so that patients can stay safe and doctors can avoid medical malpractice lawsuits.

No medical specialty is immune from wrong site surgery. However, most—41%—occur during orthopedic and podiatric surgery. Twenty percent happen during general surgery and 14% happen during neurosurgery. Eleven percent happen during urology procedures. The rest occur in dental, eye, heart, and ears, nose and throat surgeries.

How to Prevent Wrong Site Surgery

The good news is that wrong site surgery can be prevented. One of the best ways to do so is with a checklist. A checklist identifies everything that must be done before the procedure. One person, such as the surgeon or head nurse, can be in charge of the checklist.

Another good method is to avoid miscommunication and be aware of any instances where could be a misunderstanding. For example, if one nurse goes on a break, the nurse covering for her might assume something has been done. This is also where the checklist might come in handy.

Another good tip for preventing wrong site surgery is involving the patient when marking up the surgical site. The nurse should ask the patient which body part and which side (if applicable) the surgery will be performed on. This will provide confirmation as well as help prevent any confusion.

Make sure everyone is involved in preventing wrong site surgery. Some doctors who have been practicing for several decades might feel they are immune to such grave mistakes. However, all team members need to be involved. Otherwise, a never event could turn into a huge medical mistake that leads to patient injury, death or a lawsuit.

Contact a Coral Springs Medical Malpractice Attorney

Having to undergo surgery can be nerve-wracking enough for a patient. Knowing that the doctor operated on the wrong body part can be especially devastating.

If you are a victim of wrong-site surgery, get help right away from a Coral Springs medical malpractice attorney at the Law Offices of Barry S. Mittelberg, P.A. We can hold the responsible physician liable for their actions and help you recover compensation for your damages. To schedule a free consultation, call (954) 752-1213.


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