Wrong-site surgery: more common than one might think

| May 11, 2018 | Medical Malpractice

A type of medical malpractice that is a big newsmaker is what is commonly referred to as “wrong-site” surgery. More specifically, these types of medical mistakes are called WSPEs, so as to refer to the fact that wrong-site surgeries can also refer to surgical procedures done on the wrong patient and incorrect procedures done on the right patient.

The medical community refers to these events as “never” events in that they should not happen if a doctor and his supporting staff are exercising reasonable care. Another way to look at these types of incidents is that they would more often than not be good grounds for pursuing a medical malpractice case.

Probably to the relief of Georgia patients, WSPEs are relatively rare, occurring once in every 112,000 operations. This translates in to one hospital experiencing a WSPE about every 5 or 10 years. It should be noted, though, that these numbers do not include WSPEs that do not take place in a hospital setting.

Even if statistically rare, it’s easy to see how a little carelessness can lead to a WSPE. For instance, it is surprisingly easy for a neurosurgeon to operate on the wrong part of one’s spine, and it is also easy to see how a busy hospital could confuse two patients with the same or a similar name.

Nevertheless, hospitals and doctors are under an obligation to make sure they have in place proper safety protocols to make sure that these “never” events indeed “never” happen to their patients. If they fail in this obligation, then they can and really ought to be financially responsible for their patient’s additional medical bills and lost wages. Additionally, non-economic compensation for things like pain and suffering may be available.