Wrong-Site Surgeries: Medical Errors That Should Never Occur


December 30, 2013

While there are many forms of medical malpractice, one of the most inexcusable examples involves wrongs-site surgery because these types of errors are appropriately labeled by the health care community as mistakes that should never occur. Nonetheless, this form of surgical error occurs approximately forty times per week according to a report by the Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare. Wrong-site surgery encompasses surgeries involving the wrong part or side of the body, the incorrect surgical procedure or surgery on the wrong patient. When medical professionals perform wrong-site surgery, they not only force patients to undergo unnecessary pain and recovery but also potentially expose patients to the potential serious risks associated with general anesthesia which may include brain damage and wrongful death. If you or someone close to you has been the victim of wrong-site surgery, this form or medical error may provide grounds for financial compensation based on medical malpractice.

The Commission report finding this frequency of wrong-site surgical procedures did not base these conclusions on a single substandard hospital but rather collected data from eight separate ambulatory centers and hospitals. Many of these surgical mistakes directly resulted from poor communication, issues with scheduling processes and distractions in the operating room. The report provided common examples of errors that resulted in wrong-site surgery.

  • Markers for the surgery being washed away prior to surgery
  • Failure to take consistent "time outs"
  • Lack of consistent protocols between facilities
  • Declining to properly mark the surgical site

There are a range of procedures that are suggested by patient safety organizations that can reduce the risk of medical errors that result in wrong-site surgery that include the following:

  • Implementing procedures that the surgeon be the one who marks the site
  • Confirming information regarding the site of the surgery and side of the body the day before the surgery
  • Require training of all staff members on proper use of a surgical checklist
  • Encourage communication during time out periods prior to surgery where any member can focus attention on a deviation from standards of practice
  • Make others in the hospital aware of incidents at the facility involving wrong-site mistakes
  • Involve the patient in the process of marking the site to the degree possible
  • Monitor compliance with checklist procedures during random surgeries

Common long-term consequences of wrong-site surgery include infection, severe disfigurement and amputations. Our Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys available to provide you with a free consultation. Our firm has been representing injury victims for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.

No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.


Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.