Surgical errors happen across the country every week, sometimes leaving patients with major medical complications. One of the most serious and possibly life-altering surgical mistakes involves a wrong-site or wrong-side surgery.
In some cases, the physician may remove healthy tissue instead of necrotic or cancerous tissue. Other times, they may operate on the wrong part of the body completely. Such mistakes can drastically increase how long it takes for someone to recover from a medical condition.
These surgeries have two kinds of consequences. The first is the medical impact of the unnecessary procedure, which may require correction. The second is the ongoing need to correct the initial medical issues that still exist. How do wrong-site and wrong-side procedures even take place in the 21st century?
Gaps in communication are a major contributing factor to surgical mistakes
Although many hospitals and medical practices have digitized their records systems, information sharing can still be problematic. Surgeons may receive inaccurate information or look at the information for another procedure they have to perform the same day. Communication issues are one of the most commonly reported causes of wrong-side and wrong-site operations.
There is a potential overlap between records and communication issues and surgeon burnout that could result in a big mistake. Having a surgeon speak not only with their assistance but also with the patient, if possible, prior to surgery can go a long way toward preventing mistakes. In some cases, the patient will even mark their body themselves so that the surgeon knows exactly where to operate, thus reducing the likelihood of a wrong-site procedure.
Victims of major surgical errors like wrong-site operations may have grounds for a malpractice claim, especially if the surgeon or medical facility cannot correct the damage done by the improper procedure.