The National Institutes of Health defines wrong site surgery as simply,
“the performance of an operation or surgical procedure on the wrong
part of the body.” This could include:

  • the wrong side of the body (left opposed to right);
  • the wrong location (the wrong finger on the correct hand);
  • the wrong procedure; and
  • the wrong patient, due to staff looking at another patient’s chart
    or entering incorrect data on a patient’s chart during the scheduling process.

Medical errors often go unreported, but some statistics have revealed that
wrong site surgeries account for more than 10 percent of all medical mistakes
– an ominous figure considering the high incidence of malpractice
in this country. (See “Preventable Medical Errors: The Sixth Biggest Killer in America.”)

Although the Joint Commission – the organization responsible for
accrediting hospitals in the United States – imposed new and stricter
regulations and oversight in 2003, surgical errors continue to plague
patients and may have increased. The Commission estimated that approximately
40 wrong site surgeries take place every week across the country, and
“93 cases were reported to the accrediting organization [in 2010],
compared with 49 in 2004,” Kaiser Health News reported.

“How does this happen?” you may ask. In a July 9, 2008, blog
post, Dr. Robert M. Wachter likened hospitals to IHOP.

“The point is that a business like IHOP – with its relatively
low profit margin per customer – is all about
production: everything is designed to get you in and out promptly. But production
carries a cost: with haste sometimes come mistakes. I remember many times
when our cute little syrup well was filled with four boysenberry syrups,
rather than the appropriate assortment (maple, strawberry, blueberry,
and boysenberry). But that seemed a small price to pay for speed,”
said Wachter, who serves as professor and associate chairman of the Department
of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. He also edits
patient safety journals and reports.

“I’ve used this IHOP/SFO metaphor many times in speeches to
hospital staff and leaders over the past few years,” said Wachter,
“and [I] usually end it by asking audiences: ‘In its approach
to production and safety, does your hospital look more like the IHOP or
SFO?’ Although things have gotten a bit better over the last couple
of years, the answers still run about 10:1 in favor of the IHOP.”

If you’ve suffered an injury during surgery, contact our Cleveland
office today for a free consultation or
request our free medical malpractice guide.

Inaccuracy in the Operating Room

Another problem pinpointed by a number of studies is the fact that hospital
staff sometimes mark the wrong site of the patient’s body. According
to state agency Patient Safety Authority, prior to surgery, healthcare
providers should:

  • ask the patient for his or her name and birth date (or other information
    that the healthcare provider could check against the patient’s chart);
  • double check the patient’s ID bracelet;
  • inquire what surgery the patient will be having and on which side of the
    body (if it’s an arm, leg, eye, kidney, etc.).

Unfortunately, doctors, nurses, and anesthesiologists don’t always
ask these questions, and mistakes are made.

If you or someone you love has been injured by wrong site surgery, contact
our malpractice attorneys. We will review the facts of your case in a
no-cost, no-obligation consultation. During this meeting, you will have
the opportunity to ask questions, and we will evaluate whether you are
able to pursue compensation for corrective surgeries, lost wages, future
medical and rehabilitation bills, as well as pain and suffering. These
case evaluations require no commitment from you, and you are under no
pressure to hire an attorney or file a claim.

Wrong Site Surgery in Cleveland, Ohio

Do you have questions about a
surgical error? Before you hire an attorney, request our
free Ohio medical malpractice guide to learn about your rights. Or
contact us for a free consultation.