The Horrors of Wrong Site Surgery
Surgery is already a nerve-wracking notion for many patients. Despite the fact that surgery is meant to aid in proper healing, the image of a masked surgeon wielding a sharp scalpel is just too much for some people. Surgeries can be painful and scary experiences. The process inflicts trauma and stress on the body. We can’t say we blame anyone who wants to avoid surgery as much as possible. Sometimes, patients endure the pain, fear, trauma and stress only to find out their surgery was done on the wrong body part. We call this a wrong site surgery.
What Is a Wrong Site Surgery?
Wrong site surgeries are when the surgeon does the correct operation on the wrong body part. When a surgeon goes in to operate on a patient, the site of the surgery should be marked. However, there are times when this mark is in the wrong spot or is not made at all, leading to an ineffective and unnecessary surgery. If you are horrified at the thought of this occurring at modern hospitals, you are right to be. Invasive surgeries are traumatic enough events without being completely purposeless. Not only do victims of wrong site surgeries have to contend with the violation of having the wrong part of their body being cut open, but they also have to deal with the extreme dangers that come with such negligence.
The Dangers of a Negligent Surgeon
All forms of medical malpractice are dangerous. That includes medication errors, surgical positioning errors, and even bedsores. Wrong site surgeries are no different. If a surgeon performs on the wrong part of your body, it could lead to serious complications that are impossible to reverse.
When a doctor schedules you for a surgery, it is not a decision that is made lightly. While surgeries are now commonplace in the world of modern medicine, they are still dangerous. Cutting open the body inflicts serious trauma on it, even if it is in the interest of promoting proper healing. That is why doctors often avoid performing surgeries on elderly patients or patients who are already incredibly ill.
So, when a mistake as serious as performing surgery at the wrong site happens, it places the patient in serious jeopardy. The body can only take so much physical trauma, and a wrong site surgery only uses up some of that limit. On top of that, a wrong site surgery won’t fix the underlying issue that the surgery was originally meant to treat. So, you’ll still need the surgery they intended to complete. If you were supposed to have corrective surgery on your left eye to give you back your sight, performing the surgery on your perfectly fine right eye won’t do anything except potentially cause you to lose even more of your vision. That is why checking in with the hospital as well as your surgeon about what steps they are taking to prevent such mistakes is paramount to your health.
Make Sure Your Surgeon Is Following These Steps
There are several steps that surgeons can take to make sure that they do not accidentally perform surgery at the wrong site. Unfortunately, not all hospitals enforce these steps, and not all surgeons bother following them, even if they are enforced. You should talk to your doctor and surgeon and ask if they are:
Using a checklist: A checklist is an excellent way to make sure that all steps have been taken prior to starting surgery. This way a surgeon can make sure that the site has been properly marked, the patient has given clear consent – as well as confirmed their identity – and that all safety steps have been taken. Without a checklist, a number of steps could be completely forgotten.
Taking a timeout: When it comes to surgery, a timeout is a period of time taken before the procedure to go over all relevant information. It gives the surgeon time to go over the checklist, make sure the patient is properly identified and marked, and clear up any possible communication errors that may have led to a serious mistake. A time out promotes proper communication between nurses, doctors, surgeons, and patients, and makes patients that much safer.
Involving the patient: Finally, you should not be left by the wayside. You are the one being operated on, after all. Both your surgeon and your doctor should include you in the conversation, explaining the procedure to you, as well as taking precautionary steps such as confirming the site of the surgery. When patients are allowed to take an active role in their own health, mistakes are much less common.
Sadly, there are many medical professionals who feel they are above such safety steps. The truth of the matter is, no matter how often someone has performed a surgery, mistakes are made. Without these precautions, the mistakes made are far deadlier. If you or a loved one have been the victim of a wrong site surgery, you deserve justice and compensation. Call Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. at (303) 759-9945 or toll-free (877) 433-3906 to get expert legal aid from a Denver medical malpractice lawyer.