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The consequences of wrong-site surgery

Since 1999, medical research teams have been studying statistics concerning wrong-site surgeries. This information includes facts about wrong-patient and wrong-procedure treatments, consequences of surgical errors and preventative actions taken. However, reporting the events is voluntary, so the total number of wrong-site surgeries reported may be far lower than the actual occurrences.

In addition to putting patients at risk, a wrong-site operation could result in serious consequences for the operating physician. A state licensing board often imposes serious financial penalties on doctors who perform wrong-site or wrong-person surgeries. In addition, some insurance providers no longer pay for wrong-site surgeries or for other operations that result in major errors such as leaving a surgical instrument or sponge in a patient's body. Many patients have sought medical malpractice compensation to cover corrective expenses. Because of the research that occurred over the past 15 years, a new Universal Protocol is being used to help reduce consequences to patients, surgeons and hospitals. This new system enforces the idea of making sure medical staff verifies a patient's identity before an operation commences.

Unfortunately, wrong-site surgeries still occur regularly. Malpractice claims for these surgeries often result in the patient being awarded compensation. According to medical statistics, nearly 80 percent of claims for wrong-site eye surgery result in the patient being awarded a malpractice claim.

A medical malpractice lawyer can assist patients whose lives may have been altered because of a wrong-site surgery. The plaintiff may receive money to use for correcting a misdiagnosis, surgical error or emergency room errors. Post-traumatic counseling, lost work wages and other costs might be covered when filing a malpractice lawsuit.

Source:, "Wrong-Site Surgery: A Preventable Medical Error", Deborah F. Mulloy; Ronda G. Hughes, September 19, 2014

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