Preventing Wrong Site Surgery

Surgical errors, such as surgery that is performed on the wrong site, or even on the wrong person, are errors that should never happen in a medical facility. They are known as a “never event.” However, it can be an unfortunate reality for some patients. These mistakes are entirely preventable if the proper, proactive steps are taken by medical professionals. Some steps that can be taken to prevent wrong-site surgery include:

Properly Marking the Site

Wrong-site surgery can be prevented if medical professionals properly mark a patient to either indicate where surgery is going to take place or where it should not take place. Each facility should have a standard protocol for marking surgery sites, and all staff must be trained on this protocol.

Talking to the Patient

Surgeons should talk to the patient before surgery to ensure that the surgery is performed on the correct side. For instance, a surgeon could say “Mrs. Smith I’m here to operate on your right hip, is that correct?” or put more responsibility on the patient and ask “Mrs. Smith, which hip am I operating on today?” Involve the patient in marking the wrong site.

Scheduling Surgeries Carefully

Schedulers should rely only on written requests to schedule surgery to ensure that surgeries are scheduled appropriately. All surgery information should be thoroughly verified before being placed on the schedule. Scheduling mistakes can lead to incorrect procedures being performed on the wrong patient.

Performing a Surgical “Time Out” Before a Procedure

Before surgery is performed, all staff should take a time out to communicate what is going to happen during the surgery and to make sure that everyone is on the same page. This preoperative briefing can be essential for discovering errors and eliminating miscommunication. It is important to keep surgical instruments in another room during this briefing to prevent staff from becoming distracted by setting up equipment.

Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you’ve been injured as the result of a wrong-site surgery, you should have an experienced medical malpractice attorney evaluate your case. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have over 50 years of experience helping New Yorkers injured by medical errors. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se habla español.