What Patients Need to Know About Wrong-Site Surgeries

When anyone goes in for surgery, they are aware that there may be some side effects after waking up from the surgery. For example, patients often experience pain and nausea for days following surgery. Although these side effects are to be expected, some people wake up from surgery to find out that the pain and nausea they are feeling are actually due to an operation that occurred on the wrong part of their body.

It may seem unimaginable that a surgeon could get it wrong and perform an operation in the wrong place; however, wrong-site surgeries—while rare—do happen. In fact, estimates place wrong-site incidents at as many as 40 per week in the U.S., according to the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare.

Wrong-site operations can include performing surgery on the wrong side of a person’s body or the wrong body part. Any time a wrong-site surgery occurs, a patient will suffer the following:

  • Another surgery. When the wrong part of the body is operated on, inevitably a person will have to go through another surgery to perform the original procedure and possibly to fix a problem created by the mistake. Additional surgeries create more medical bills, more pain, more treatment, more time to heal, and more lost income.
  • Life-altering effects. If a healthy body part was removed, a person will obviously suffer needlessly. Additionally, wrong-site spinal surgeries can result in paralysis. In the same manner, if a surgeon operated on a previously un-damaged side of the brain, a patient can suffer communication challenges, behavioral issues, and personality changes, rather than the improvements he or she expected going in to surgery. Any of these outcomes are life-changing events.
  • Additional expenses. Any type of wrong surgery that takes place can lead to additional surgeries, more medical bills, lost income, and sometimes costs associated with disfigurement and impairment. Some patients may need ongoing medical care, in-home care, and home modifications if a wheelchair or other medical device is necessary.

If a surgery mistake caused you or a loved one additional pain, expenses, and other serious effects, you should seek legal advice. Even if the doctor was forthright and the hospital has agreed to pick up the immediate costs associated with this act of medical negligence, you may have additional expenses associated with this surgical error. We want to make sure you get the most compensation possible as a victim of medical malpractice. Please request a free copy of our book, What You Need to Know Before Pursuing a Medical Malpractice Case and call us for a free consultation.