Were you the victim of a wrong-site surgery?

When you found out that you needed surgery, you may have felt frightened and apprehensive about the prospect. Of course, you likely understood that the procedure was necessary in order to address your medical condition, and you also likely trusted your doctor's judgment in suggesting the operation. After all, medical professionals have the knowledge and training to address such issues.

After you underwent surgery, you may have expected to learn that the operation resulted in a successful outcome. Unfortunately, you may have awoken from the anesthesia only to find out that the surgeon had operated on the wrong part of your body. During your shock and dismay, you undoubtedly wondered how such a mistake could have occurred.

How common is wrong-site surgery?

You may have assumed that because your medical issue was documented that such a major error as performing surgery on the wrong part of your body could never have taken place. Now that it has, you may wonder if you are alone in suffering this type of medical mistake. Unfortunately, you have become a victim of a relatively common "never event" that may occur during surgery.

As of 2015, projections made by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations of the USA indicated that approximately 50 wrong-site surgeries take place every week. However, the commission took steps as part of a research project to work toward lowering this number in eight medical centers, which allowed them to discover and address issues that could lead to wrong-site surgeries.

Where do wrong-site surgeries commonly occur?

Reports also stated that performing surgery in the wrong area of the body happens more commonly with spinal procedures. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that of 400 surgeons who responded to a survey, 50 percent of those individuals had conducted a surgical procedure at the wrong level of the spine at least one time.

What causes wrong-site surgeries?

Many issues could lead to this type of medical mistake. Some surgeons may fail to appropriately review a patient's chart or his or her records or pre-operation checklists. Other members of staff may notice a mistake taking place but fail to point out the error. Other small mistakes that could lead to this major error include distractions, failure to mark the surgery site and booking errors.

How can you address such an error?

Wrong-site surgery is a major mistake that can have lasting consequences. On top of needing additional surgery to address the initial medical issue, you could also face permanent injuries from the unneeded procedure. If you have suffered negative outcomes due to wrong-site surgery, you may wish to explore your legal options for seeking compensation and justice.

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