Surgeons and their teams must take all necessary precautions to avoid accidentally harming patients in their care or leaving them vulnerable to injury or infection. This can require carefully following detailed procedures. Failure to do so may result in harm. Surgical malpractice can even cause a patient’s death.
Surgical errors may occur for a variety of reasons. Often, they happen when a seemingly minor oversight causes significant harm to a patient.
However, this is not always the case. There are instances when patients are harmed or do not receive proper treatment because a surgeon makes an error so glaring you might understandably wonder how it could ever happen: performing surgery on the wrong part of the body or the wrong patient entirely.
Often referred to as wrong-site surgery, while not happening as frequently as some other types of surgical errors, this mistake is nevertheless more common than many realize, and it continues to occur to this day.
For example, in 2020, an interventional radiologist in Boca Raton, Florida, removed a stent from a kidney on the right side of a patient’s body. However, when they inserted the replacement stent, they inserted it into the left side.
Or, consider the fact that two employees of University Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio were placed on administrative leave due to an incident that occurred in July of 2021 when surgeons gave a new kidney to the wrong patient.
Again, wrong-site surgery happens less often than many other forms of surgical malpractice. That’s not to say it’s entirely uncommon. One 2006 study indicated that wrong-site surgery may occur as often as 25 to 52 times a week in the United States.
Performing surgery on the wrong side of the body, the wrong body part, or even the wrong patient is a very egregious error. Many patients and medical professionals are equally confused about how it can still happen.
There’s no single answer to the question “Why does wrong-site surgery still occur in the US?” Many factors are likely to blame.
Medical professionals who have studied the issue often point out that wrong-site surgery may actually happen because it is such a major error. Surgeons who are otherwise vigilant in regard to following safety procedures might not think that performing wrong-site surgery is the type of mistake they would ever make. As a result, they don’t think to take precautions guarding against it.
Data also indicates that two-thirds of surgeons who perform wrong-site surgery are in their 40s or 50s. While someone might naturally assume that younger, inexperienced surgeons are more likely to make this type of mistake, it’s possible their more experienced peers perform wrong-site surgery more often because they have grown complacent after years of not making such an error.
This is unfortunate. Victims of wrong-site surgery often sustain permanent injuries. Some lose their lives.
Have you or a deceased loved one been harmed due to a surgeon making such a remarkable error? If so, a Philadelphia wrong-site surgery attorney at The Weitz Firm, LLC is prepared to review your case and let you know whether you have grounds to seek compensation by filing a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit. Get started pursuing what you may be owed today by contacting us online or calling us at 267-587-6240.