Are Wrong-Site Surgery Errors Medical Malpractice?
Very little in life is as crushing as learning that doctors have just performed surgery on the wrong part of your body. It means you didn’t get the initially intended surgery, which was either desirable or necessary, so you will have to reschedule to have that surgery again, and that’s the best-case scenario. In extreme cases, the results can be devastating or even life-threatening. For example, what if your surgeon mistakenly operates on part of the body you need – such as removing the healthy kidney and leaving only the failing one behind? Sadly, that’s just one of countless examples of how devastating it can be when surgeons operate on the incorrect body part. And this type of surgical mistake happens far more frequently than it should.
Wrong-site, wrong-procedure, and wrong-patient errors (WSPEs) are rightly termed never events – meaning these errors should never occur and indicate serious underlying safety problems. Yet despite that, studies suggest that there could be as many as 4000 surgical mistakes each year where surgery is performed on the wrong body part or patient in the United States. This is about seven per day! Surgical errors are a reality, so let’s examine what qualifies as a surgery mistake and your options.
What Is Wrong-Site Surgery?
Wrong-site surgery is a broad, generic term that encompasses all surgical procedures performed either on the wrong patient, the wrong body part, or the wrong side of the body. It is also used to describe performing the incorrect procedure on, or performing on the wrong part of, a correctly identified anatomic site. For example:
- Surgery on a completely different part of the body
- The right part of the body is operated on, but in the wrong place (such as the wrong vertebrae)
- Surgery for the correct body part, but on the wrong side of the body (the right foot vs. the left)
Sometimes, however, you do not have patient consent for the operation, but it still does not constitute medical malpractice.
When Is Surgery on a Different Part of the Body NOT Incorrect?
In some cases, surgeons will get inside the body, and the situation will be different than they thought. When that happens, they may decide to change the protocol without consulting the patient (who is obviously under anesthesia at the time). This can occur when:
- Doctors find a serious problem, such as a tumor, near the surgery site and decide to remove it instead of performing the original surgery.
- They’re required by the mechanics of the body to operate in a different way than intended (for instance, extra vertebrae that require a change in treatment plan).
If your doctors made a call like this while you were under anesthesia and it was in your best interest, it likely does not constitute medical malpractice. However, if, while doing so, they acted negligently, you may still have a case worth exploring. Even if they didn’t operate on the wrong body part, it’s still possible you suffered from anesthesia mistakes, retained objects, or other surgical errors.
What Are Your Options?
Very rarely, though, do people manage to succeed in this on their own. Instead, it’s crucial to get the help of an experienced medical malpractice attorney who knows exactly how to approach the case. A good attorney will first offer a free consultation to help you determine if you have a valid claim. From there, they will assist you in gathering evidence, putting together the best possible case, and bringing it to court.
Get the Help You Need to Receive the Compensation You Deserve
Medical malpractice suits are not easy to win, unfortunately. There’s a good reason for this: we need to be sure malpractice occurred before bringing a claim because otherwise, we risk the careers of good physicians who serve our community. Therefore, the courts expect a high level of preparation and proof in medical suits.
However, that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve compensation for your hardships. If surgery on the wrong part of your body has led to additional pain, financial loss, work loss, or other adverse outcomes, you must protect your interests. The good news is that with the help of an experienced malpractice attorney, you’re much more likely to receive the compensation you deserve. We can help, so don’t wait any longer to get in touch with The Nail Law Firm to schedule a consultation today.