Wrong-Site Surgery Mistakes

Operating on the Wrong Body Part Is Medical Malpractice – Let Our Attorneys Help

Categorized as a “never event,” wrong site surgery occurs when a surgeon operates on the wrong body part or the wrong side of the body. According to the Opthalmic Risk Management Digest, 84 percent of wrong site surgical events resulted in medical malpractice awards. Although rare, wrong site surgeries can have devastating lasting consequences.

If you or someone you love underwent surgery on the wrong body part, this could constitute a medical malpractice claim, so call our attorneys for a free evaluation.

How do wrong site surgeries happen?

According to research released by The Joint Commission, wrong site surgery is generally caused by a lack of procedures in place to mitigate such events. Without a formal system in place to verify the correct site of the surgery, these never events are much more likely. The Joint Commission further broke down the causes of wrong site surgery into these top three factors:

  • Communication breakdowns – 70%
  • Noncompliance with established procedures – 64%
  • Leadership issues – 46%

Failures of Systems

In “Wrong Site Surgery: A Preventable Medical Error,” Deborah F. Mulloy and Ronda G. Hughes categorized wrong site surgery errors by system causes and process causes. Some of those system failures can include:

  • No surgical checklist
  • Excluding certain members of the surgical team from meetings and debriefings
  • Only the surgeon is informed of the surgical site
  • Time constraints / rushed procedures
  • Staffing failures
  • Ignoring patient characteristics that could impact surgery

Failures of Processes

In the same study, Mulloy and Hughes detailed a number of process factors that could also lead to or contribute to the risk of wrong site surgeries.

  • Failing to thoroughly assess the patient
  • Breakdowns in communication between members of the surgical team
  • Multiple procedures being performed during one surgical session
  • Mismarking or failing to mark the correct surgical site
  • Whether by act or omission, failing to comply with procedures

Wrong site surgery is completely preventable. That is why if this happened to you or a loved one, you may be able to pursue a medical malpractice claim. We invite you to contact The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., for more information.

Examples of Wrong Site Surgery

In 2011, The Washington Post published an article on wrong site surgery, which made the case that these surgical errors showed no sign of slowing down. The piece recounted various real-life examples of wrong site surgery, including:

  • Doctors in Minneapolis removed the healthy kidney from a man with kidney cancer
  • A surgeon at a VA hospital in California removed the healthy testicle from an Air Force veteran
  • A Rhode Island Hospital surgeon operated on the wrong finger of a patient, which was the fifth wrong site surgery that hospital was responsible for in a three-year timespan

Calling an NYC Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Surgery mistakes are not the same as the known, adverse side effects associated with some surgical procedures. These “mistakes” are completely avoidable – the result of medical negligence, communication errors, lack of training, and other procedural insufficiencies. If you or someone you love went through a wrong site surgery, we invite you to contact our New York City medical malpractice attorneys today for a free review of your case. We represent the injured and the wronged throughout New York County, Kings County, Bronx County, Richmond County, Queens County, and beyond.