It seems a no-brainer: when performing a surgery doctors must ensure that they perform the operation on the correct spot on the patient’s body. However, each Chicago medical malpractice attorney at our firm understands that wrong-site surgeries occur far more than community members would assume. The severity of the error varies from simply mistakes that can be corrected to egregious surgical problems with long-term (or even life-threatening) complications.
A helpful resource on the overall problem of wrongs-site can be found at NCBI. The website provides a free full-length chapter of a book on patient safety that details the way that these errors are made, the consequences, and the steps that need to be taken to ensure no surgical patient suffers from this problem in the future. The full chapter can be accessed HERE.
The chapter explains that “wrong-site surgery” actually refers to several errors: surgery performed on the wrong part of the body, the wrong procedure performed, and surgery performed on the wrong patient. The report explains how these errors almost always have negligence at their root. Some analyses have found that between 80-85% of all wrong-site surgeries result in some type of malpractice award.
Orthopedic and podiatric procedures are the most common operations that involve wrong-site errors. However, general surgery, urological and neurosurgical operations have also been found to lead to higher than normal rates of these errors.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Al.com reported last week on the end of a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by a woman whose doctors performed a cyst removal on the wrong part of her breast. The woman had breast cancer and was diagnosed with a complex cyst in her left breast. She was scheduled to have a biopsy performed on the breast. During the pre-operative process a nurse made a mark on the woman’s breast. The patient informed the nurse that the mark was not in the same spot at the cyst. However, the nurse explained that the mark was just to let the doctors known which breast to operate on.
The doctors performed the operation on the exact spot of the marking-not the spot where the cyst was located. When the patient awoke she informed the doctors that the cyst was still there. She had to immediately go in for a second surgery to correct the problem. Unfortunately an infection developed on the location of the first surgery. She eventually needed to be treated for a left breast abscess, skin necrosis, and cellulitis.
The patient filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the facility to recover her losses as a result of the error. The case went to trial, and the jury this week found in her favor. They determined that the hospital and medical team did not follow standard patient safety protocol in marking the body to prevent wrong-site surgeries.
If you or someone you know may have been affected by a surgical error like this one in our area, please be sure to get in touch with a Chicago medical malpractice attorney to see how the law might apply in your case.
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