Wrong Site Surgery Is Medical Malpractice


Occurrences of wrong-site surgery are on the rise, despite attempts to prevent it.  It has been estimated that, on average, wrong-site surgery happens about forty times a week.  The blame for this rise is on a medical culture where doctors do not double check and resist second guessing.

When a patient goes in for surgery, the medical professionals may ask many times “what are we operating on today?”  The doctor or nurse may even give the patient a pen to mark the area of their body on which the surgery was to be performed.  The reason for this is to ensure that the surgical staff operations in the correct place.  However, despite this, wrong-site surgery still occurs.

There are a couple of ways wrong-site surgery may occur.  A surgeon may operate on the left knee when they should have operated on the right knee.  In other cases, the right procedure may be performed on the wrong patient.  A surgeon may perform a hip replacement when the patient was to undergo a knee replacement.

It is surprising that wrong-site surgery at all but some hospitals have even said it happens all the time, and it’s not the patients fault.  Poor communication between doctors and hospitals is almost always the cause.

There are procedures which every health care provider should adopt to eliminate the risk of wrong-site surgery.  Hospitals should have a triple-check system prior to conducting a surgery.  Even before the patient is sent to the operating room, the hospital should check:

  • Whether they are treating the correct patient.
  • The part of the body on which the surgery is to be performed.
  • Whether the correct procedure has been recommended.

Once the patient is in the operating room, before the procedure even starts, there should be a “time-out” and final verification of the procedure to be done.  During this check all the health care professionals involved with the surgery need to unanimously agree on what should be done.

Patients can also help to prevent wrong-site surgery by:

  • Being patient with the nurses and other surgical staff as they ask questions about the procedure.
  • Marking the surgical site prior to the operation and agreeing about the procedure that is to be performed.
  • Being educated about the procedure about to be performed and requesting a second opinion.

But what do you think?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at jfisher@fishermalpracticelaw.com.  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.