Wrong-site surgery errors can have devastating consequences for patients.

This type of medical mistake occurs when a surgeon operates on the wrong part of the body or performs the wrong procedure. Despite stringent protocols in place to prevent such errors, they still happen, leading to serious physical and emotional harm.

How wrong-site surgery happens

Wrong-site surgery errors can occur due to various factors. This includes miscommunication among healthcare providers, failure to verify patient identity and surgical site, inadequate preoperative assessment, and lack of clear marking of the surgical site. Fatigue, distractions and time pressure in the operating room can contribute to human error. In 2022, wrong surgery ranked fourth place for patient sentinel events, 65% of which involved wrong-site surgeries.

Consequences of wrong-site surgery

The consequences of wrong-site surgery errors can be severe. Patients may suffer from unnecessary pain, prolonged recovery times and additional medical complications. In some cases, irreversible damage or permanent disability may result from operating on the wrong part of the body. Such errors can have lasting psychological effects. It can cause patients to lose trust in the healthcare system and experience anxiety or depression.

What patients can do

Patients should communicate their concerns to their healthcare provider and seek clarification about the procedure. It is important to obtain medical records and documentation related to the surgery for further review. Patients should also consider seeking a second opinion from another qualified healthcare professional to assess the extent of the error and explore potential corrective measures.

While wrong-site surgery errors are distressing, patients have recourse options available to them. By advocating for themselves and actively engaging in the resolution process, patients can contribute to enhancing patient safety and preventing such errors from occurring again.

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