Wrong Site and Wrong Patient Surgeries Should Never Happen to a Careful and Competent Physician

John Fisher
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Stopping Medical Injustice

People often feel disbelief when they hear that a surgeon has committed surgery on the wrong side of the body, wrong part of the body, or even on the wrong patient.  Perhaps an overworked surgeon did not pay attention to the X-rays or CT scan images.  There may have been some fluke or freak occurrence that took place because the doctor was in a hurry and the patients’ records were mixed up.  The patient may have been asked to mark his or her own surgical site but did not understand the instructions.  Lastly, wrong site or wrong patient surgery could be a clear sign of negligence.  In most cases it is not the patient who is to blame.  Rather these errors are caused by poor communication between hospitals and doctors.

There are several ways wrong-site surgery can occur.  The surgeon may operate on your left knee instead of your right or the surgeon may do a knee replacement when a hip replacement was intended. 

The conditions under which wrong-patient surgery require include:

  • Two patients may have the same name.
  • Two patients are undergoing similar procedures at the same time.
  • The patient may not have been able to communicate the error (because he or she was unconscious, emotionally upset, or does not speak English).

Regardless of how many patients a surgeon sees in a single day, the patient is owed the utmost care by the surgeon and the surgical team.  Due to this surgical error it is likely that the patient will need another operation to correct the error. 

It is understandable that a patient would expect that the surgeon and hospital not charge the patient for further medical treatment necessary to correct the harm that was caused by wrong site surgery.  The surgeon and hospital may also be liable for lost wages, possibly the lost wages of the patient’s spouse if they cared for the patient longer than expected, loss of earning capacity, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.

But what do you think?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected]  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.

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