Wrong-site surgery or “WSS” occurs when surgery is performed on the wrong side or site of the body, the wrong surgical procedure performed, and surgery on the wrong patient. IT is any invasive procedure that exposes the patient to more than minimal risk.
Wrong-site surgery is the 3rd highest ranking event for preventable medical errors, occurring in about 15% of preventable medical error instances which means it is a common thing we encounter in medical malpractice cases. This is according to the well-recognized “Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations” now simply known as just “The Joint Commission”.
Approximately 85% of wrong-site surgery claims result in medical malpractice settlements or verdicts for the patient. Wrong-site surgery is a preventable medical error that can easily be avoided through simple verification with the patient of identification, procedure performed, and side to be performed. Orthopedic surgeons and their staff often ask several times which knee is being operated on before administering anesthesia. One toll is that they use a black marker and write “NO” on the knee not being operated on, a simple but effective step that prevents this common medical error.
The Joint Commission found that the top factors for WSS cases are communication error (70%), procedural non-compliance (64%), and leadership (46%).
Medical associations have several campaigns to promote the prevention of this medical error, such as “Sign your Site”, “NO” and “Time Out”.
“Sign Your Site” and “NO” are very similar as they require the nurse or surgeon to mark the surgical site after verification and then sign their initials to the surgical site. This is done after review of the medical record, verification with the patient and their family member as to procedure and side, and verification with another member of the surgical team. The marking must be with a permanent marker so that it is not erased or blurred when prepping the surgical site with shaving, iodine, or other prep procedures. “NO” is simply the same as “sign your site” but using a NO as part of the sign your site procedure.
“Time out” is a procedure just before the surgery begins, there is a “time out” and it is verified to everyone on the surgical team that they have the proper patient and everyone knows the proper surgical procedure and surgical site.
Operating on the wrong area can have severe or deadly consequences for the patient. If a doctor operated on the wrong body part, you may be entitled to compensation for medical malpractice. Call a St. Louis medical malpractice lawyer today at (314) 863-0500 or contact us online. All consultations are free. Call us risk free to discuss your case with an attorney.