Patient Safety Week – Day 2

An estimated 2,080 wrong site surgeries errors occur each year in the United States. The term wrong site surgery actually encompasses several different types of errors that occur in the operating room including wrong site, wrong side, wrong procedure and wrong patient surgeries. Wrong site surgeries are "never events" — meaning they should never happen. 

First, as the name implies, a wrong site surgery is where a surgeon actually operates on the wrong body part. Patient A is supposed to undergo an appendectomy but instead the doctor removes a kidney. An example of wrong side surgery is when the surgeon does a knee replacement on the left instead of the right leg. Sometimes surgeons will perform a surgery on the wrong patient. For instance, patient A is scheduled to have an appendectomy. But because proper protocols were not followed, the doctor actually performs the appendectomy on patient B, who was supposed to undergo a bowel resection. Finally, the doctor may have the patient, the site and the side correct but may still perform the wrong surgery. For instance, patient A is supposed to undergo an ACL repair of his right knee. Instead, the doctor performs a total knee replacement on patient A’s right knee. 

Obviously, these types of medical errors are completely and totally preventable. Here are some of the common ways wrong site surgeries occur:

* Someone other than the surgeon marks the surgical site.

* Using stickers instead of marking on the skin.

* Unapproved abbreviations, deletions and illegible handwriting on documents.

* Ineffective communication as patient is transferred.

* Rushing or distractions during pre-operative meeting

* Documents (consent, booking orders, operating room schedule, etc.) are missing

* Site marks covered by surgical draping or removed during surgery preparation.

If you or a loved one has been injured in wrong site surgery, we urge you to read more about wrong site surgeries on our website and then contact one of our award-winning lawyers to discuss your case and determine your legal options. Contact us online or by calling toll-free at 866-812-8787 or locally at 615-742-4880. We handle all wrong site surgeries on a contingency basis which means we only get paid if we win.