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Why Do Wrong Site Surgeries Occur?

Wrong site surgeries are among the most easily preventable medical errors. If surgeons, medical staff, surgery centers and hospitals proactively adopt and follow simple proactive measures, wrong site surgeries would not happen. There are universal protocols created by entities such as the Joint Commission Board of Commissioners that medical centers around the country must follow to prevent these disasters. All accredited hospitals and surgical facilities must abide by these protocols, which include three critical components: preoperative verification process, marking of the operative site and a time-out.

A Surgical Team Performing an Operation

Potential Causes of Wrong Site Surgeries

Examples of system failures that increase the risk of wrong site surgeries include:

  • Disorganization or understaffing at the hospital.
  • A lack of communication among surgical staff members.
  • Missing patient or surgery information.
  • Failure to verify the patient’s identity before the operation.
  • Failure to notice discrepancies on the patient’s chart or schedule board.
  • Missing signed patient consent forms.
  • Failure to conduct a pre-anesthesia assessment.
  • Inadequate or missing checklist process.
  • Ignored industry recommendations for preoperative checks.
  • Failure to perform a time-out, or a pause to double-check everything prior to starting the procedure.
  • Rushing into surgery without taking the proper preoperative steps.
  • Improper marking of the surgical site.

These mistakes and mishaps still occur despite the universal protocols that should be in place at all health care centers in the U.S. According to published data, the highest rates of wrong site surgeries happen in the orthopedic field, potentially due to its technical complexity and high patient volume. Risk factors associated with wrong site surgeries include distraction, high demand, large patient volume and human error.

What Are Your Legal Rights as a Victim of a Wrong Site Surgery?

In a perfect world, wrong site surgeries would never occur. Unfortunately, many hospitals, surgery centers and their medical staff make mistakes and have lapses in judgment that result in this devastating outcome. If you or a loved one suffered physical or psychological harm due to wrong site surgery, you may be entitled to financial compensation. You may have the right to file a Philadelphia medical malpractice claim against the individual practitioner and/or hospital or surgery center to recover monetary damages for the harm that you suffered.

The elements that must be proven in a surgical error claim are 1) a doctor-patient relationship existed at the time of the alleged act of malpractice; 2) the defendant breached or violated the standard of care owed to the patient; 3) the patient suffered compensable losses or damages in the event; and 4) the patient’s harm was caused by the defendant’s breach of the standard of care. An attorney can help you investigate and prove your case using the medical records, radiology studies, and expert testimony.

To find out if you have a medical malpractice case related to wrong site surgery in Philadelphia, request a free consultation with an attorney at Youman & Caputo.