Hospital Nightmares: What Patients Should Know About Wrong-Site Surgeries

Posted on January 20, 2016 by Shapiro Law Group

The health care community refers to many surgical errors as ‘never events’, mistakes that should never occur. Wrong-site surgeries are one of the most common never events, and the type of error that can have life-changing consequences for patients.

In 2011, CNN wrote an article on a toddler undergoing surgery to fix a lazy eye. The surgery should have been a quick and easy fix, but the procedure went wrong when doctors corrected the wrong eye. This was a minor example of a wrong-site surgery, and the toddler was unharmed. Many other people are not that lucky.

A Washington Post article describes in horrifying detail how wrong-site surgeries can ruin the lives of patients. For example, surgeons removing the wrong kidney or amputating the left leg instead of the right one. In one case, surgeons disabled an Arkansas man after operating on the wrong side of his brain. Similar wrong-site surgery errors occur 40 times a week in hospitals around the country, and over 2,000 patients are affected every year.

How Can Hospitals Prevent Wrong-Site Surgeries?

The Joint Commission released a Universal Protocol checklist to help doctors and hospital staff avoid wrong-site surgeries. Doctors are encouraged to properly mark the correct site before beginning a procedure, involve the patient in the verification process, and perform detailed pre-surgery checklists. These are only three examples of the many policy recommendations encouraged by the Joint Commission.

In other words, hospitals should set up policies that encourage double-checking work before starting surgeries on patients.

Shapiro Law Group helps victims of medical negligence throughout the state of Florida.

Tags: PatientSafety


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