Wrong Site Surgeries

There is an old adage used by carpenters: measure twice, cut once. Of course, the adage applies with even more force to surgeons. But unfortunately, all too often patients wake up in the recovery room and learn their doctor operated on the wrong body part or performed the wrong surgery. In fact, the Washington Post has reported 40 wrong site surgeries occur a week in U.S. hospitals and clinics. Obviously, such catastrophic errors are avoidable if proper rules and procedures are in place and followed by the surgical team. Here are just a few of the steps recommended by the American College of Surgery on how these incidents can be prevented:

  • Confirm with the patient or the patient's representative that the correct person is being taken to surgery.
  • Confirm the procedure to be performed both with the patient or the patient's representative and the surgery staff. This verification should include the location of the operation i.e. right shoulder.
  • Review the consent form with the patient or the patient's representative.
  • The surgical site should be marked prior to the patient being given sedation, narcotics or anesthesia.
  • Prior to beginning the procedure, the surgeon should do a final check with the other members of the surgical team and verify again the patient, procedure, and surgical site.
  • Before the surgery begins, all necessary records and imaging studies should be placed in the operating room.
  • If any of these steps reveals an inconsistency or issue, the surgery should be delayed until verification is completely accurate.

Unquestionably, simple procedures such as these are effective in preventing operating room mistakes. For example, Kaiser Permanente surgeons were involved in three wrong site surgeries in a six month period, prompting the company to institute a "Pre-Operative Safety Briefing", similar to a pilot's pre-flight checklist. Following implementation of the checklist, there has only been one wrong site surgery in ten years.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of an operating room mistake, contact one of our experienced medical malpractice attorneys at the Law Office of John Day. Because medical malpractice cases are complex, experience is essential, and our team has it. John Day is board-certified in Medical Malpractice by the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys, and he also testified in front of the Tennessee Legislature on the recent changes to the medical malpractice laws. In addition, we employ a nurse on staff full-time to assist with medical questions and issues. Our clients will tell you we know how to get results -- we have recovered more than $100 million dollars for our clients --and here are just a few testimonials from our satisfied clients. Contact us online or call us today at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 for a free, no-obligation consultation. If your injuries prevent you from coming to us, we will gladly come to you at the hospital or your home.

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