WRONG SITE SURGERY OCCURS FREQUENTLY and LEADS to MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIMS: wrong body part, wrong patient, wrong surgical procedure

boat1Wrong site surgery takes place when a surgeon operates on the wrong part of a patient’s body, performs the wrong procedure, or performs on the wrong person. Despite standard of care protocols to prevent it, wrong site surgery happens frequently. For example, a doctor may perform a hip replacement when a kne­e replacement was required, or a left foot amputation rather than the right. Wrong site surgery leads to medical malpractice claims against the surgeon and possibly against the hospital where the surgery took place.

According to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), 76 percent of wrong site surgeries were surgeries performed on the wrong body part. The other 24 percent were split between operations using the wrong procedure and operations on the wrong person. Researchers from Johns Hopkins found that physicians throughout the United States may operate on the wrong body part as often as 20 times each week.

When a surgeon operates on the wrong body part, the clinical consequences can vary. Consider the following – A surgeon was supposed to remove a patient’s diseased left kidney but ends up removing the healthy right kidney. In such a scenario, the patient would be left without kidney function, and the consequences would be devastating. In less life-threatening situations, a patient will still need an additional surgery to correct the wrong site error. Additional procedures or treatment may also be needed to correct any new problems created by the surgeon’s mistake.

In most states, an injured patient will have a medical malpractice claim if the surgical error was the direct cause of the patient’s harm. Medical malpractice takes place when a doctor fails to use the level of care that another doctor in the same specialty would have used in the same situation, causing harm to the patient. To win in a medical malpractice claim, the patient must establish that the doctor owed the patient a duty of care, the doctor breached their duty of care to the patient by deviating from the standard of care that has been accepted as appropriate in the doctor’s area of practice, and the doctor’s breach was the direct cause of the patient’s resulting injuries.

A plaintiff attorney in a medical malpractice case may be able to recover a variety of damages including medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost income and benefits, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and disability. The compensation can come through a settlement or through a jury award.

Kathleen A. Mary, RNC, Legal Nurse Consultant Certified is an honored medical expert and lifetime clinical scholar valued immeasurably by her plaintiff and defense attorney-clients as a time/cost-efficient asset to medical malpractice, personal injury and product liability claims. Kathleen provides flawless investigative navigation of meritorious complexities, meticulous comprehensive medical record reviews, locates trusted preeminent experts, is a recognized medical researcher and lifetime standard of care clinical consultant. For over 25 years, 100% of Kathleen’s cases (hundreds) have been positively settled without trial. Please contact Kathleen for your next medical-legal case.  

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