How Do Surgeons Operate On The Wrong Patient?

It may seem unthinkable that a surgery could be performed on the wrong patient, but it does occur. Although rare, these never events—wrong-site, wrong-procedure, wrong-patient errors—should never occur but when they do, medical malpractice action should be taken.

What Are Some of the Problems That Lead to Wrong-Patient Surgeries?

Generally, there isn’t just one error that occurs that causes a patient mix-up, but a series of small mistakes, such as distractions, poor communication, verification errors, and more. Some of the issues that have contributed to people receiving operations intended for other patients include:

  • Failure to have time-out meetings. Prior to surgery, surgeons have what they call “time-out” meetings with their surgical teams in the operating room. During these short meetings they are supposed to verify the patient’s identity and other surgical information. Unfortunately, breakdowns in communication occur and sometimes patient identification is skipped over altogether.
  • Failure to verify a patient’s identity. A classic patient mix-up case involves a verification error in which two patients with similar last names get mistaken for each other. For example, a patient may have needed a cancerous tumor removed but ended up undergoing a cardiac procedure that was meant for another patient with a similar-sounding last name. This surgical error is completely due to the medical staff not double and triple checking a patient’s name and verifying information in the patient’s chart.

When patients are mixed up, they end up experiencing unnecessary surgeries and sometimes serious injuries related to the wrong procedure.

If an error contributed to you enduring the wrong surgery and needing an additional surgery, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. This is especially the case if you have suffered serious injuries or the removal of an organ, limb, or other body part. Sadly, any time surgical errors occur, patients not only suffer physical pain, but they also suffer financial losses due to the additional medical costs and lost wages. To make sure you receive fair and just compensation following a surgical error, please request our complimentary book, What You Need to Know Before Pursuing a Medical Malpractice Case.


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