Prevention measures for wrong-site surgeries

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

Research has shown that doctors in New York and across the nation are not infallible. One clear example of this is wrong-site surgeries. Whether the surgeries are performed on the wrong part or side of the body, the results for the patient can be devastating. It is estimated that these types of errors are very rare, and that the typical hospital might only have such an incident once every 10 years, but the goal for medical professionals should be to eliminate these types of preventable errors completely.

To that end, efforts are under way to protect patients by putting an end to these surgical errors. One preventive measure is preoperative site marking where the patient is actively engaged in marking and initialing the site to be operated on. The work to be performed is also reviewed before the patient is given any anesthesia or other drugs that might impair the ability to comprehend and engage in the conversation. Another measure is the timeout procedure. Designed to improve communication among the surgical staff, a checklist is reviewed before the surgery begins. The goal is to confirm that all members of the operating team are aware of the surgery to be performed and the surgical site.

Unfortunately, wrong-site procedures have not yet been eliminated. Errors may occur long before a patient arrives at the operating room, or the timeout procedure may be rushed. This is why medical facilities are implementing a combination of measures in an effort to make patients safer.

When a patient undergoes surgery and the wrong work is done or the wrong body part is operated on, the damage can be long-lasting. Corrective surgeries may be required, and the initial surgical procedure still needs to be performed. However, patients do not have to struggle through the longer recovery time and financial hardships on their own. It is possible to work with a lawyer to determine who is at fault for the error and hold the doctor, medical team or surgical center accountable for the damages and losses.

Source:, “Wrong-Site, Wrong-Procedure, and Wrong-Patient Surgery“, October 19, 2014

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