Although wrong site surgery is rare, when it does happen the consequences are often severe. Wrong site surgery is the term used to describe a procedure done on the wrong organ or limb, the wrong vertebral level or the wrong person.
A study was conducted a couple of years ago, which determined a wrong site surgery rate of 1 in 112,994 cases. According to researchers, cases involving retained objects are more common than cases involving wrong site surgery. There was a disclaimer made by the authors of the study, stating that the rate of wrong site surgeries could be higher because only the cases that prompted malpractice claims with insurers were identified.
Wrong site surgery can occur with any type of procedure, including hand surgeries. A survey of hand surgeons showed that 21 percent of hand surgeons admitted that they performed a wrong-site surgery at least once during their career. Wrong-finger surgery made up 63 percent of the reported 242 wrong site surgery incidents.
As a patient, you may be wondering what you can do to help prevent wrong site surgery from happening to you. Luckily there are measures you can take to reduce your risk. The American College of Surgeons produced several tips to help patients ensure the correct operation is performed. The first recommendation this organization had for patients was to communicate with their doctors and medical staff. Ask a lot of questions, confirming the name of the procedure, the body part, alternatives to the operation, risks of the procedure and estimated recovery time. You might also want to inquire about who is in charge of the surgical team and if the correct part of the body will be marked before the surgery begins.
You do have legal rights if you have been the victim of wrong-site surgery and can purse compensation for your injuries. Contact an experienced Florida medical malpractice lawyer at the Law Offices of Lilly, O’Toole & Brown at (863) 683-1111 for advice regarding your case.
The article, Wrong-Site Surgery – An AHRQ Supported Study , has more information on this topic.