Medical mistakes can range from minor to fatal. In April 2020, a Boca Raton hospital put a stint in the wrong patient’s kidney. In July 2021, a Cleveland hospital transplanted a kidney into the wrong patient. Wrong-site surgery is surgery on the wrong side of the body, body part or patient. Wrong-site surgery is rare but can have life-altering effects.
Mistakes by experienced surgeons
People think wrong-site surgery is more common with younger surgeons, but two-thirds of wrong-site surgery happens with surgeons in their 40s and 50s. Only 25% of surgeons under 40 have wrong-site claims against them. Specialized surgeons tend to have higher rates of medical malpractice suits against them. Neurosurgery and spine surgery have the highest rates of wrong-site surgery claims.
Other mistakes in a hospital
Wrong-site surgery is usually medical malpractice depending on the circumstances. Surgeons aren’t the only ones who can make mistakes to cause wrong-site surgery; these operations have scheduling staff, radiologists, reporting pathologists and OR team members.
People confusing their right and left body parts is common, and OR staff are sometimes confused when patients turn around. The noise of the hospital can distract medical students and staff.
Eliminating wrong-site surgery
In 2004, many surgery centers and hospitals decided to find ways to end wrong-site surgery due to surgical errors. There’s a three-step protocol helping hospitals to prevent medical malpractice. Health care facilities should perform preoperative verification using patient care documents. Next, facilities should mark the operative site. The final step is taking time before surgery to consider any mistakes. By 2006, wrong-site surgeries only decreased by about a third. It seems that many doctors and surgeons have trouble changing their traditional attitudes.
Wrong-site surgery is rare, but it can be a serious form of medical malpractice. Surgeons and other staff involved with the patient can make mistakes, so health care workers should focus on reducing errors.