It sounds like an urban legend: a patient is wheeled into surgery to have his arm amputated. When he wakes up, he is told the operation was a success-but when the blanket is lifted, he discovers the wrong one was removed.

It is hard to believe that surgeons could make such a basic mistake in the operating room. But it gets worse: a new study estimates that wrong-site surgical errors occur roughly 40 times a week nationwide.

Reasons For Wrong-site Surgical Errors

In a close study of 8 healthcare facilities, the biggest reasons these errors occurred were:

  • Problems with scheduling, preoperative or holding processes. Basically, paperwork issues. The study found that verifying documentation in the pre-op stages decreased surgical error rates by half.
  • Ineffective communication. The person handling the intake is different than the person prepping, who is again different from the surgical team-and any one mistake will continue down the line.
  • Improper marking. Surgeons may mark the site to be operated on with a single dot, rather than a large, unmistakable X.
  • Skipped protocol. Many surgeons skipped the final "time out"-the last chance to discover and correct an error-in favor of speeding up the procedure.

Virginia Victims of Wrong-site Surgery Need Compensation

If you have been the victim of a wrong-site surgery in DC, an experienced Fairfax medical malpractice lawyer and can hold the hospital accountable for your suffering. Call Shevlin Smith at (703) 591-0067 today for a free consultation.

Michael J. Shevlin
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Specializing in medical malpractice and serious personal injury cases since 1994.
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