How often does wrong-site surgery occur?

| May 13, 2021 | Blog, Surgical Errors

Doctors in New Jersey swear under oath to cause no harm, but sometimes, they break this oath by committing medical malpractice. Medical mistakes are often referred to as “never events” because they should never happen. A common never event is surgical error such as wrong-site surgery.

Wrong-site surgery statistics

Wrong-site surgery may include operating on the wrong patient, performing the wrong procedure, or operating on the wrong part or side of the body. For example, a patient’s gallbladder could get removed by mistake instead of the appendix, or the appendix gets removed from the wrong patient.

Wrong-site surgery is also called a sentinel event, which means an unexpected death or serious injury during a patient’s treatment. Wrong-site errors occur 50 times weekly in the United States according to statistics, or 1 in 112,000 surgeries. Research also shows that the average hospital risks a wrong-site surgery every 5 to 10 years.

The Joint Commission released statistics that show wrong-site surgery ranked third in sentinel events in 2018. Other numbers from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services reveal that 90% of wrong-site errors go unreported.

Proving medical malpractice

Wrong-site surgery errors can cause unnecessary harm to patients as well as extra debt from corrective procedures. However, patients must prove several elements to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit against responsible parties.

The patient must prove that they had a relationship with the doctor and that the doctor had a duty to treat the patient. A doctor-patient relationship is often easy to prove with medical records, but this can get tricky with ERs since they may not have patient records.

It’s also necessary to prove that the doctor breached the duty of care, and the patient has an injury because of the breach. The patient must show proof that the injury caused them damages, such as lost wages.

Besides physical harm, wrong-site surgery medical malpractice errors can cause emotional distress from adapting to a new lifestyle or undergoing extended recovery. A patient may be able to prove their case with an attorney’s help.

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