Wrong-site surgery: inexplicable and indefensible

"It's not fair."

Well, many things in life are allegedly unfair, with people complaining all the time about a supposed inequity or personal injustice inflicted upon them.

In the realm of so-called "never events," though, voiced complaints regarding results command instant attention and are ratcheted up to top-tier concerns.

Indeed, and as noted recently in one media article spotlighting a widespread problem with wrong-site surgeries, nothing is more feared and out of bounds than a never event and the always tragic results it inflicts.

This is simple stuff, really. Some medical results should simply not happen -- ever. Like operating on a wrong body part or even the wrong patient.

Or like conducting wrong-site surgeries, as referenced above.

Here's a telling and instantly chilling statistic applicable to one state (but certainly relevant in Arizona and elsewhere for its capability of repetition): Reportedly, more than 400 physicians in that state were disciplined over a recent 10-year period for overseeing wrong-site surgeries.

How truly frightening is that?

There is likely nothing in medicine that poses a worse nightmare for patients, coupled with frustration over a very simple fact, namely this: Absent negligence committed by a surgeon and/or members of an operating team, a never event cannot logically occur. It is unrivaled as the paramount example of medical malpractice in action.

"[E]veryone in that room [the operating theater] needs to be held accountable," says one medical regulator, who voices concern that too often it is only a surgeon who is held responsible for a botched medical result, with the remaining members of his or her operating team not being disciplined.

He calls that the "captain of the ship doctrine," and says it needs to change to instill greater accountability during surgery and to help eradicate the sobering nemesis of wrong-site surgeries and other grave medical errors.

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