Surgical mistakes where the wrong procedure is performed on either the wrong body part or, even worse, the wrong person, sounds like excerpts from a horror story. Unfortunately for too many people, this is a reality that has happened to them. These mistakes are completely preventable and are considered one of the “never events” that should not ever occur in a medical facility, yet every year hundreds of these mistakes happen.
Prevalence Of Surgical Mistakes
With the high cost of litigation and liability that surgical mistakes have for the surgeons and medical facilities that cause them, they should have long since been remedied. However, even with new technology and preventive procedures, these horrendous mistakes still occur. The Journal Of American Medical Association published a 2006 study that identified 5,940 wrong-patient adverse events in a 13-year period. In another study of litigation cases involving surgical mistakes, the following breakdown was made regarding 9,754 surgical mistake lawsuits:
- 50% were for surgical instruments retained in body, averaging $86,247 in payouts
- 25% of the lawsuits were for wrong site surgeries averaging $127,159
- 25% of the cases were wrong procedure surgeries averaging $232,035
- Less than 1% were wrong patient surgeries, averaging $109,648 in payouts
Some of the lawsuits had payouts over $7 million per incidence for these costly, yet preventable, mistakes.
Preventing Basic Surgical Mistakes
Most wrong-site or wrong-procedure errors are communication or administrative errors. All it takes is the wrong code to be entered and a patient is scheduled to have the wrong surgery or the wrong side operated on. However, it is the surgical staffs responsibility to double and triple check all procedures before performing them so this is not an excuse. Although it is ultimately the surgical teams responsibility to ensure the correct procedure is being done on the correct patient, patients can help protect themselves from risk.
- Ask questions. Before the surgery, ask how the surgical team ensures they are performing the right procedure, on the correct side.
- Stop before anesthesia. In pre-op, before going under anesthesia, stop and review with the medical team what is about to happen. Repeat your name and date of birth and have them double check accuracy.
- Read through the consent form. Although it may be long, read the entire consent form and ensure that it is correct.
- Surgeon initial operation area. Insist that the surgeon initials the area where you are to be operated on before the procedure.
Surgical Mistake Lawsuits
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a surgical mistake involving the wrong surgery or procedure, you have the right to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. Hospitals and surgeons have expensive legal teams on their side to reduce the amount of compensation they are liable for in these types of cases. You need a legal team that can be on your side to fight for what you deserve for your pain and suffering.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers have a team of medical malpractice attorneys and experts that are experienced in winning these types of lawsuits. We never charge a fee for our services unless we gain a monetary award for your case. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.
For more information about surgeries performed on the wrong patient or wrong area of the body: