Wrong site surgery is more common than one might think

One of the nightmare scenarios a Kentucky resident might have before going in to surgery is that the doctor in charge is not going to operate on the correct organ or body part. In extreme cases, doctors have even been known to amputate the wrong limb, meaning a patient winds up with no legs rather than just one leg.

Although such incidents are never events, meaning they really should never happen in any operating room in either Kentucky or the rest of the country, wrong-site surgery is, albeit rare, actually more common than one might think.

One government agency, a branch of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, suggests that 1 out of every 112,000 surgeries is a wrong-site surgery. This translates into an individual surgical center's encountering an incident about every 5 to 10 years.

While this means the vast majority of patients are safe, with all the surgery centers in the country and even in Kentucky, one can see how hundreds of people get affected by wrong-site surgery annually.

Based on one statistic, the majority of these wrong-site errors, almost 60 percent, involve a surgeon operating on the wrong side of the right organ, while over 20 percent involve surgery on the wrong part of the right organ, such as when a surgeon operates too high or low on person's spine. The remaining 20 percent of these surgeries are "wrong-site" in the broader sense of the word, as they involve doctors operating on the wrong patient altogether or doing an operation other than the one planned.

A lot of times, poor communication prior to surgery causes these errors. This is why doctors really should triple check everything with his or her team, ideally reviewing the plan with the patient, before going in to the operating room.

Whatever the reason, though, a wrong-site surgery is almost always going to be good grounds for initiating a medical malpractice lawsuit, assuming the patient was injured in some way on account of this very serious, and very preventable, type of error.

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