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Wrong-Site Surgeries Are Real and Not Uncommon

Most people expect that a physician operating on the wrong body part — or on the wrong person — is a rare occurrence. However, wrong-site surgeries are more common than you think. A 2010 study reported by CNN found that wrong-patient and wrong-site procedures made up about 0.5 percent of all medical mistakes studied. In fact, the study noted doctors in Colorado operated on the wrong part of a patient’s body 107 times and on the wrong patient 25 times during the course of the six-year study.

The terrible damages that occur when a doctor removes the wrong leg or subjects the wrong patient to surgery, make it imperative that steps be taken to make this types of medical malpractice disappear. PubMed.Gov discusses some of the procedures that doctors and hospitals can implement to make sure wrong site and wrong person surgeries do not occur:

  • Perform preoperative verification of all relevant records including the operative record, informed consent, test results, patient’s history and examination findings. There should also be verification with patients themselves. This is vital as wrong-site surgery often results from misinformation, mistaken records or miscommunication.
  • Surgeons should physically mark or initial the surgical site with a sterile magic marker before operating. This is consistent with the Sign Your Site initiative promulgated by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
  • Protocol must be adopted for a pause before anesthesia is administered and surgery performed. This allows the medical team to re-check they have the right patient and intended surgery site.
  • Nurses and other supporting medical personnel in the operating room should be encouraged to speak up if they see a mistake being made.
  • In spinal surgeries, the disc level should be confirmed by review of the MRI film.

If you have been injured as a result of medical malpractice by a physician, nurse, hospital or other health care provider, a certified experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney can help.

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