South Carolina residents have probably heard horror stories about surgeons operating on the wrong patient or body part. Seven years ago, mandatory rules were enacted in order to help prevent wrong-site surgeries. However, current data indicates that this problem has not yet been solved. Wrong-site surgeries occur every week in U.S. hospitals and clinics. In 2010, 93 cases were reported.
Wrong-site surgeries occur for a variety of reasons. Hospitals may not have appropriate procedures in place, or the surgeon may not plan well enough before the surgery. Simple carelessness and miscommunication are also contributing factors.
Several strategies can help prevent wrong-site surgeries. Proper communication is vital. It is also crucial to educate hospital staff on the importance of using a pre-operative checklist to prevent common surgical errors.
When a wrong-site surgery occurs, it should be communicated about openly within the responsible facility. This will help hospital staff appreciate its seriousness and prevent future occurrences. Revealing who performed the surgery is unnecessary, but sharing how the procedure was performed will hopefully foster respect for safety policies.
Thoroughly confirming and frequently double-checking patient information, especially the night before the surgery, is also essential. Although patients may express frustration at having to repeat the same information over again, they should understand that this procedure is a safety measure to ensure a successful surgery.
Simple tactics such as having the surgeon mark the spot that will be operated on are also extremely effective. Keeping the patient awake to assist during this procedure will make them feel confident in the procedure and ensure the surgeon's accountability.
Wrong-site surgeries result in tragic consequences for both the patient and surgeon. The financial cost to both can be overwhelming. The surgeon's reputation also suffers. At times the consequences may be irreversible. Remembering these guidelines will go a long way towards preventing future wrong-site surgeries.
Patients who educate themselves and seek out safety conscious doctors can help themselves avoid medical negligence. However, mistakes may happen to even the most safety conscious patient. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a wrong site surgery or other medically negligent act, please contact an experienced attorney to explore your legal options.