Operation on the Wrong Body Part

Imagine taking your three-year-old child to have surgery to correct his lazy eye. Then, when your child comes out of the operating room, the doctor tells you she accidentally operated on the wrong eye because she “lost her sense of direction.” The Matlock family in Portland, Oregon was the latest victims of wrong site surgery. The anger and frustration the parents must have felt is incomprehensible. Naturally, they sued the hospital for medical malpractice.

Their story is not uncommon. Thousands of people fall victim to wrong site surgeries each year. The real prevalence of wrong site surgeries is unknown because there are no reporting standards, and thus, a there’s a huge underreporting issue.

One study published in the journal Archives of Surgery estimated that there are 2,217 wrong site surgeries performed each year. That’s approximately seven per day: an alarming number for what is called a “never event,” as in, these should never happen.

How can surgeons make such a blatant (and damaging) mistake?

The causes and contributing factors for wrong site surgeries are plentiful. According to Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses, the three leading root causes are communication failure (70 percent), procedural noncompliance (64 percent), and leadership (46 percent).

Especially, causes can be broken up into two categories.

  • System factors: Poor protocols for verifying the site of surgery; no operating room checklist; time pressure; use of unusual equipment; inadequate team credentials; weak organizational culture; lack of training; and poor or inadequate staffing.
  • Process factors: Inadequate patient assessment; failure to review medical records; poor planning; miscommunication among members of the surgical team and the patient; failing to include the patient and family when identifying the correct site; failing to clearly mark the correct operation site; noncompliance with procedures; and failure to recheck patient information before starting the operation.

Filing a Medical Malpractice Suit

Note, the above is a list of causes, not excuses. Wrong site surgeries are completely unacceptable. Surgeons and hospitals are supposed to provide patients with an acceptable level of care, and to do what they say they’re going to do. If they make a huge, careless mistake and wind up operating on the wrong body part, patients can and should hold the hospital responsible for the harm they’ve suffered.

If you or your loved one underwent a wrong site surgery, Cordisco & Saile LLC would like to speak with you. You may qualify to file a medical malpractice suit to recover the following.

  • Medical bills
  • Future corrective surgeries
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

Contact our office, Cordisco & Saile LLC in Pennsylvania, for a consultation: 215-642-2335 to discuss whether it is the doctor you hold liable or the hospital’s liability for mistakes a doctor makes in its facility.