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Wrong-site, wrong-procedure, wrong-patient: welcome to the world of surgical errors, P.2

In our last post, we began speaking about the persistence of surgical errors despite efforts to prevent them. Wrong-site, wrong-procedure and wrong-patient errors are particularly concerning because of the serious impact they can have on the patients involved. 

Surgical errors are even more problematic when the providers who performed the surgery, or the hospital that employs them, refuses to take responsibility for the error.  A recent example of this is an incident that took place at an out-of-state hospital where a surgeon reportedly removed a kidney from the wrong patient. Afterward, the hospital claimed that its staff followed proper protocols in prepping and performing the procedure, and that the patient’s physician was to blame for the error. 

Last time, we mentioned that one of the protocols many hospitals use to prevent the occurrence of wrong-site, wrong-procedure, and wrong-patient surgery is to halt the procedure whenever there are any unresolved questions or concerns about the patient. This is sometimes called a “timeout.” While the preventative measure is helpful, it doesn’t help in every case. Providers might not catch an error, for example, if an incorrect ID bracelet is given to a patient, or if the wrong X-rays are sent to the operating room.

The cost of surgical errors can be significant, and can include permanent loss of organs, limbs, and failure to receive timely surgery. Patients who have been unlucky enough to suffer a serious surgical error should work with an experienced attorney to have their case evaluated, to determine their options, and to build the strongest possible case for compensation.

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