What is a Wrong-Site Surgery?
Around 100,000 people die of medical errors every year. One of the biggest causes is poorly performed surgeries.
Wrong-site surgery may involve getting operated on the wrong side of the body, undergoing an incorrect procedure, or getting a medical procedure done that was meant for another patient. These wrong-site, wrong-patient, and wrong-procedure errors are serious blunders that should never occur and demonstrate severe safety issues. They are a common cause of medical practice cases.
An example of wrong-site surgery is operating on the incorrect level of the spine, which is an unfortunate yet common problem for neurosurgeons. A case study of a wrong-site surgery involved a patient who was operated on for a heart procedure originally intended for another patient with the same last name.
Causes of Wrong-Site Surgeries
New technology has changed the way surgeries are performed. However, mistakes are still a common problem.
The main factors that dramatically increase the risk of wrong-site surgeries in four key areas include:
During the scheduling of surgeries – whether it is done verbally by phone, electronically by emails or websites, or manually by fax or paper – a lack of verification and accuracy of booking documents can lead to major mix-ups. Unapproved abbreviations, incomprehensible handwriting, and cross-outs in booking forms are also big contributors.
Pre-op errors include unreliable use of the site-marking protocol, incomplete patient verification, and marks made with unauthorized site markers. Incorrect primary documents like medical history, surgeon’s booking orders, and consent forms can result in wrong-site procedures. Similarly, people other than the surgeon marking the site can create confusion before the procedure.
3. Operating Room
Operating room errors commonly include rushing and distractions during time outs. Issues occur when employees time out without full concentration or when there is some sort of miscommunication in the briefing process. Another cause of wrong-site surgery is the lack of verification of the primary document right before the incision. Many of these errors are known as “never events” — accidents that should never occur in a modern day medical facility. When a person suffers a serious injury during a surgical procedure, it is likely that they are a victim of medical malpractice.
4. Organizational Culture
Organizational culture errors include senior leadership not being actively involved in the daily processes, employees not being empowered or encouraged to speak, and policy changes made without consistent or adequate staff education.
Avoiding Wrong-Site Surgeries
Leadership is fundamental in avoiding wrong-site surgeries. This is one of the key areas that can minimize the risk associated with this malpractice. Improved leadership and communication may include a briefing period right before a procedure to verify the planned actions. Moreover, an interview process involving the patient can be useful. Making the patient’s family members part of the process may also ensure that further confirmation of the procedure is provided.
Financial and professional consequences can result from cases of wrong surgical procedures, and the impact on the patient could also be very serious. For this reason, it is best to take proactive measures to eliminate any room for error.
What to Do If You Become a Victim of a Wrong-Site Surgery?
If you experience medical malpractice, you could be entitled to financial compensation for the related damages. To strengthen your case, make sure to take the following steps.
- Look for a healthcare professional elsewhere. Make sure the new surgeon is in your life insurance provider’s network to avoid taking on added debt while you receive treatment. Make sure to contact a reputable personal injury lawyer before leaving the facility you believe is at fault. Failing to follow up properly and/or missing appointments with the previous surgeon may potentially create problems for your court case.
- Maintain a record of all evidence of damages, causation, and liability. Hold on to your prescriptions, medical records, diagnostic images, and medical bills. Save all the invoices and receipts for any costs that you incurred related to the wrong-site surgery.
- Do not discuss your problem with anyone other than your friends and family. Avoid talking about your troubles online via social media posts. The healthcare industry realizes the severity of malpractice lawsuits and will often try to handle them on its own. If the other party approaches you, do not correspond. No matter how regretful and passionate they seem, their main goal is to resolve the issue quickly and cheaply. Consult with your lawyer on what steps to take next.
Call a Personal Injury Attorney for Malpractice
If you believe you have been a victim of a surgeon’s malpractice, it is best to call a personal injury lawyer to help you get the compensation you deserve.