Surgery errors: Wrong site, wrong procedure, wrong patient

| Sep 28, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

It is only natural to be anxious in the time leading up to a scheduled surgical procedure. After all, WSPEs — wrong-site, wrong-procedure, wrong-patient errors — are reported in the media from time to time. These surgery errors are called “never events” because they should never happen. However, surgical patients in Delaware and across the country face that terrifying risk.

Examples of such errors include wrong-site surgery, such as surgery on the right side of the body to remove a cancerous lesion present on the left side. A concerning fact is that it is not uncommon for neurosurgeons to operate on the wrong site, such as surgery to an incorrect part of the spine. Another never event is performing a cardiac procedure on a wrong patient who happened to have a similar or the same last name as the patient who was scheduled for the procedure.

The suggestion to mark the area to be operated upon clearly seemed like a solution. However, no standard protocols were established, causing confusion. Surgeons did not know whether the marked area was where surgery should occur or an area to avoid. A current standard involves the medical team taking a break to go through a checklist before proceeding with surgery. Although that has proved to be an effective method to prevent WSPEs, it does not address any errors that happen before the patient reaches the operating theatre; for example, the nursing staff sending the wrong patient to the surgical ward.

Victims of wrong-site, wrong-procedure, wrong-patient surgery errors might have grounds to file medical malpractice claims. However, this is a complicated field of law. Seeking the support and guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney in Delaware is typically the best way to pursue recovery of financial and emotional damages sustained.