Study reveals wrong-site surgery still occurs more than believed

Sustaining an injury or contracting an illness can be a painful and frustrating experience. This may be especially true when such a condition requires surgery. The prospect of a physician operating on or inside the body may yield anxiety or even fear in a patient. In these circumstances, an Illinois medical malpractice attorney knows that patients may have no choice but to put their trust in the physicians who will be operating on them.

Knowledge that medical doctors have passed through extensive training for many years can be reassuring. However, no matter how well trained physicians may be, they are still prone to error. One of these errors is wrong-site surgery.


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Katz Friedman Jan 1 - Wrong site surgery still a problem

What is wrong-site surgery?

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, wrong-site surgery is a preventable error where one of the following scenarios occur:

  • The correct surgery is performed on the right patient, but on the wrong side of the body.
  • The correct surgery is performed on the right side of the body, but on the wrong patient.
  • The surgeon operates on the right patient and on the right side of the body, but performs the wrong surgery.
  • The surgeon operates on the right patient but on the wrong side of the body and performs the wrong surgery.

While an Illinois medical malpractice attorney does not see victims of wrong-site surgery as often as other medical mistakes, it does happen with surprising regularity.

Widespread concern

A recent study from the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare reveals that wrong-site surgeries occur weekly in the U.S. In fact, they can happen up to 40 times within a single week. There are several factors that can play a role in a wrong-site surgery, such as a data entry error, misreading medical records and failing to double-check the type of surgery to be performed as well as where on the body and for which patient.

It is also suggested that wrong-site surgeries are considerably underreported. This implies that the actual number of wrong-site surgeries could be far higher. Adding to these findings, a national survey conducted by Medline Industries, Inc., shows these doctor errors constitute the top safety concern for operating room nurses in the country.

Medical malpractice

The chain of events from the diagnosis to the operation creates many opportunities for error on the part of the health care professionals involved. When an error results in a wrong-site surgery, patients may be entitled to compensation from the professional or hospital responsible. Patients who may be the victims of a wrong-site surgery may wish to consult with an Illinois medical malpractice attorney.