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Wrong-site surgical errors can prove devastating for patients

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2024 | Surgical Errors |

Most people naturally feel a bit nervous when their physician recommends a surgical procedure. While surgeries generally have very high success rates, there are risks with even the most routine of procedures. The more involved or cutting-edge a procedure is, the greater the possibility that something could go wrong in the operating room. People may worry about bad reactions to anesthesia or doctors finding more cancer than they anticipated when removing a tumor. Yet, they don’t always recognize that there is a very serious possibility that their surgeon could make a major mistake when performing the procedure.

Wrong-site surgical errors are so horrifying they seem like something that should never happen. Medical professionals generally agree with that assessment, referring to them as a type of never event. Unfortunately, wrong-site procedures occur with some degree of frequency in the United States.

What occurs during a wrong-site procedure?

As the name implies, wrong-site procedures involve doctors operating on the wrong part of someone’s body. Sometimes, they might operate on the right side of the body when the issue is on the left side of the body.

The negative consequences of a wrong-site procedure are relatively obvious. First of all, the patient does not receive the treatment that they require. Their condition might worsen because the surgeon operated on the wrong part of their body. Occasionally, a wrong-site procedure can cause significant damage on its own. In extreme cases, such as the removal of tissue, it may become impossible for someone to receive the treatment they initially required.

How can patients avoid wrong-site operations?

Understanding the risk is an important first step toward limiting the chances of a wrong-site procedure. Doctors are most likely to make mistakes with the location of the procedure when performing spinal surgery, arthroscopy and procedures on muscles or tendons. Some medical facilities have patients mark themselves with a permanent marker before a surgery to ensure that the doctor operates on the right body part.

Those affected by wrong-site procedures often require revision surgeries and additional treatment. They may face a longer recovery and, therefore, time away from work. Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit could help those impacted by surgical errors obtain compensation for the losses related to this “never event.”