There are many causes of a wrong site surgery. In some cases it’s just one slipup that leads to the error and in others it’s a series of events. In general, they occur when there’s a failure to follow protocols for preventing such a mistake; for instance, not adhering to a checklist of steps before, during, and after the surgery. More specifically it can happen when the surgical site isn’t clearly marked. Or it’s marked but the ink fades after prepping the skin with alcohol. Surgical draping may even cover the markings.
A failure to verify can also lead to a wrong site surgery. This can happen when the patient isn’t identified at least two ways – such as the person’s name and birth date – or if a new healthcare professional gets involved in the care but doesn’t carefully review the patient’s records.
Just before putting the patient under anesthesia, it’s usually protocol to do a timeout. This is when everyone stops to make sure they’re on the same page. The surgeon goes over the procedure yet one more time. In some cases, the team performs the timeout, but doesn’t include all the surgical team members.
A wrong site surgery can occur when there are time pressures as well, such as a surgeon who has performed several procedures in the same day or when an operation is unplanned because it’s an emergency.
No matter the cause, it’s important to identify who is responsible. Most times it is the surgeon. But it could also include the facility at which it happened. For instance, the surgeon might have a private practice but if he also has hospital privileges, that medical center could be liable if the wrong site surgery occurred on its grounds.
Other members of the operating room staff could potentially be liable, depending on the circumstances. An example would be a nurse who erased the surgeon’s markings on the patient’s body.
Learning you have been the victim of this type of medical mistake can be devastating. If the surgeon owns up to the mistake, he may make an offer to correct the matter and not charge the patient for both the wrong and correct procedure. Under certain circumstances this might be enough.
But another step that may need to be taken, if the mistake resulted in serious harm, is to contact an attorney about legal options for recovering compensation. This is especially important if it results in disfigurement, such as amputating the wrong arm, or leads to other serious consequences.
Contact Ryan, LLP in Cleveland to review your options for legal action after medical malpractice leads to serious injury and damages. Call us at 877-864-9495 or fill out our contact form.