The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has defined a wrong-site surgery as an event that is not related to the patient’s natural course of illness, rather they are unexpected events that cause serious physical or psychological injuries. According to the Commission, around 50 wrong-site surgeries take place in the country weekly.
As the above demonstrates, wrong-site surgeries are much more common than Massachusetts residents are expecting. Between 1990 and 2010, 9,744 wrong-site events were settled in medical malpractice cases-six percent of the patients involved in these cases died, 32.9 percent suffered permanent injuries and the remaining were temporarily injured. The problem persists in every medical field, but studies demonstrate that it happens the most frequently in spine surgeries, with single-level lumbar laminotomy being the most common wrong-site procedure.
It’s not possible to identify a single factor that leads to these surgical mistakes. These errors begin from the very moment the patients step into the hospital. Booking errors, verification errors, inconsistent site markings and a lack of safety culture are only some of the contributing factors. Dealing with these issues should be a primary concern for hospitals, but it rarely is.
The reality is that, since the surgical error could have taken place at any stage of a patient’s visit to a medical facility, parties involved try to shift the blame onto one another. This makes it difficult to hold a medical professional accountable for their negligence, as no one is willing to cooperate in providing documents that could show who is at fault. A medical malpractice suit may be one way to find out what went wrong and get compensation that could cover ongoing medical treatment caused by the negligence.