Medical malpractice and wrong-site surgery mistakes

Firm News | December 4, 2014

Medical malpractice is often the most emotionally devastating type of personal injury because there is an element of trust involved. Most of us rely on our doctors to preserve our health and prevent us from exposure to avoidable injuries. There are many forms of medical malpractice including patient neglect, misdiagnosis and even prescribing incorrect or inappropriate medicines. Arguably, the worst forms of medical malpractice occurs when a doctor conducts surgery on the wrong patient or in the wrong location on a patient’s body.

According to a 2008 quality handbook published by the National Institutes of Health, many doctors were simply unaware of the actual numbers of patients injured by WSS until 1999. That was the year that the Institute of Medicine published a report which catalogued a series of injuries, deaths and near-misses due to surgical errors.

Since that groundbreaking piece of research became public, the medical community began a joint commission tasked with keeping track of so-called “sentinel events”. Sentinel events are defined as events that are unexpected and involve the risk of death, actual death or injury to a patient.

The overall numbers of wrong-site surgeries vary widely because the joint commission relies on doctors to voluntarily report their errors. Therefore, it may be possible that only 10 percent of WSS incidents are being reported. One estimate claims that one out of every 27,686 sentinel events could be a wrong-site surgery. Another estimate puts that number closer to one WSS out of every 112,994 surgeries.

Even one wrong site surgery is too many. If you are an Illinois resident who has suffered due to malpractice or hospital negligence, you may be entitled to sue for compensation of your injuries. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to recover your medical expenses, lost wages and perhaps even damages for your pain and suffering.

Source: National Institute of Health- Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses., “Chapter 36 Wrong-Site Surgery: A Preventable Medical Error” Deborah F. Mullo, Ronda G. Hughes., Dec. 03, 2014