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Wrong site surgery medical errors

Though rare, the occurrence of wrong site surgery in New York is perhaps one of the most clear-cut forms of medical malpractice. When one of these 'wrong site, wrong procedure, wrong patient errors" takes place, the medical mistake may indicate a failure in the underlying safety standards at the facility where it happened.

A WSPE is a procedure that is done on either the wrong part of the body, the wrong side of the body or the wrong patient altogether. For example, a patient who has had the noncancerous side of their vulva removed and the cancerous side left in place would be a victim of a wrong site surgery. These types of errors are believed to take place once for every 112,000 surgical procedures, or about once every five to ten years at a given hospital. These statistics, however, do not include procedures that are done outside of the operating room.

Studies that have looked into the occurrence of WSPEs have revealed that poor communication in the operating room is usually the root cause. Misunderstandings involving site markings on the patient's body is another underlying factor. In order to prevent WSPEs, the medical community developed what is called the 'surgical timeout." This is a pause before surgery begins in which medical personnel orally review what they are about to do.

Surgical malpractice involving a wrong site surgery may result in increased medical expenses and prolonged suffering for the patient who was involved. After a patient has become a victim of a wrong site surgery, an attorney may be able to help the individual to file a claim for compensation. The patient may claim reimbursement for medical expenses and lost wages as well as compensation for the pain and suffering that has been endured.

Source: Patient Safety Network, "Wrong-Site, Wrong-Procedure, and Wrong-Patient Surgery", October 03, 2014

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