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Wrong-site, wrong-procedure and wrong-patient surgery

On Behalf of | Feb 6, 2024 | Medical Malpractice |

Different mistakes can happen in an operation room (OR), including wrong-site, wrong-procedure and wrong-patient surgery. These mistakes should never occur, yet they do.

Here is what to know about them:

Wrong-site surgery

Wrong-site surgery is when a surgeon operates on the incorrect part of the body, such as operating on the wrong level of the spine. 

This mistake also involves performing surgery on the wrong side, which is common with body parts that are on both sides, for example, when a surgeon removes the right kidney instead of the left one.

Wrong-procedure surgery

Some cases of patients undergoing the wrong procedure have been reported. 

Wrong-patient surgery

This is when a surgeon performs the “right” procedure on the wrong patient.

What causes these mistakes? 

Incorrect/poor documentation is one of the leading reasons for cases of wrong-site, wrong-procedure and wrong-patient surgery. For example, when a surgeon performs a procedure intended for patient A on patient B due to a similar surname. 

A surgeon must read medical records in-depth and communicate effectively with everyone involved, including the administrative department. Any discrepancy or missing information should be solved before they enter the OR.

Additionally, failing to mark a body part can lead to wrong-site surgery. Left and right confusion is not uncommon among humans. That’s why surgeons need to mark the intended body part. This step is also crucial when operating a body part with multiple levels, such as the spine, or multiple structures, such as the fingers or toes.

Further, surgeons who don’t perform a time-out are likely to make errors. A time-out is a pause that occurs immediately before starting a procedure to verify all elements, including the patient’s identity, procedure, site, safety and so on.

If you experienced wrong-site, wrong-patient or wrong-procedure surgery, learn more about your options to protect your rights.