Wrong Site Surgery
In Kentucky and elsewhere medical errors occur for any number of reasons. However, there are some medical errors that are completely preventable and thus are usually cases of medical malpractice. One example of preventable errors are called Wrong Site Surgery errors. Wrong site surgery includes any procedure that is done on the incorrect side of the body or the incorrect location on the body, an incorrect operation, or a surgery involving the incorrect patient.
Errors involving such atrocities as surgery on the wrong side of the brain, amputations of the wrong arm or leg or removing the wrong internal organ simply should never occur and can have obvious life-altering consequences. While wrong site surgeries in Kentucky are relatively rare, they can have terrible repercussions for the patient.
How Do Wrong Site Surgeries Occur
In 2003, the Joint Commission, an independent non-profit organization that certifies healthcare organizations and programs in the US, took on the problem of wrong site surgery. Their findings indicated that the majority of the cases were caused by the lack of a routine system for verifying the site or location of the surgery and a breakdown in communication within the surgical team.
Other common problems that can contribute to wrong site surgery include, but are not limited to:
- Lack of a checklist
- Failure to verify location of surgery with the patient
- Patient is not name tagged correctly with wristbands
- Operation site not clearly marked or is marked in a way that causes confusion
- Multiple surgeries on the same patient
- Multiple surgeons/doctors involved in the procedure(s)
- Late changes to operating procedures
- X-rays read incorrectly (may be flipped when viewed by the surgeon)
- Marking incorrect vertebrae in spinal surgery
- Time pressures
- Medical records not reviewed or not present at surgery
- Surgeon is the only member of the team verifying surgery site
Methods for Preventing Wrong Site Surgery
As the result of these findings, the Joint Commission issued the Universal Protocol for Preventing Wrong Side Surgery. This protocol calls for health care organizations, including those in Kentucky, to follow guidelines focused on three main steps:
- Preoperative Verification Process to verify patient, procedure and site with the patient and to ensure the proper equipment, medical records and images are present for surgery
- Clear marking of the operative site
- Implementation of a “Time Out” amongst the surgical staff right before starting the procedure to verify patient, procedure and the site of operation
Contact Brett H. Oppenheimer, Attorney Regarding Wrong Site Surgery Claims
Hospitals, ambulatory care centers and surgical centers need to use these steps to develop a system to prevent needless medical mistakes. If healthcare providers fail to protect their patients from wrong site surgeries, they need to be held accountable for the damages.
If you have been the victim of a wrong site surgery in Kentucky, you may have claims against the hospital and the surgeon for medical malpractice and may be able to receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Louisville attorney, Brett Oppenheimer has had worked with victims of wrong site surgeries in Kentucky. (Read more about a client who Brett successfully represented in a case of wrong site surgery.)
Please contact Brett, to discuss your legal options so that you can make an informed decision about the course of action you need to take to pursue a claim.