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Wrong-site, wrong-procedure, wrong-patient: welcome to the world of surgical errors, P.1

Getting a surgical procedure can be a nerve-racking experience for many people, not only because surgery has its own inherent risks, but also because most the public is aware of the fact that surgeons and other health care providers are not perfect and do occasionally make mistakes.

Different types of mistakes can occur in surgical procedures, but several particularly concerning possibilities are when the hospital performs surgery on the wrong body part, performs the wrong form surgical procedure, or performs surgery on the wrong patient. 

About 2,700 wrong site and wrong patient surgeries are estimated to occur every year. While that number is relatively small compared to the number of surgical procedures that are performed annually, the healthcare industry has had trouble eliminating the problem even with strict preventative measures.

Different hospitals have different protocols for preventing wrong-site and wrong-patient errors, but some of the common precautions include: taking care of discrepancies in the records prior to the procedure, clearly marking the procedure site and halting the procedure until all questions and concerns are resolved.

Making a surgical error is one thing, and it is bad enough, but refusing to take responsibility for an error is another matter altogether. Ideally, surgeons and hospitals would always take responsibility for their mistakes and clearly communicate with patients about them, but this unfortunately isn’t the case.

We’ll continue looking at this issue in our next post, as well as how an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help patients who are seriously injured because of surgical errors. 

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