Arizona residents may be aware that reported cases of wrong-site surgery have been on the increase in recent years. Since the 1999 publication of a study by the Institute of Medicine about surgical errors, reports of wrong-site surgeries have increased more than tenfold. Although it is uncertain whether the increase is due to a greater number of errors, improvements in reporting or combinations of factors, individuals who have been negatively impacted by surgical errors have the option to seek legal redress for their injuries.
Wrong-site surgery is classified as a sentinel event, or an unexpected medical outcome that exposes the patient to serious risk of physical injury, psychological injury or death. According to a panel which attempts to oversee similar issues in health care, wrong-site surgery has become the third most common sentinel event.
Wrong-site surgery occurs when the operating team accidentally performs a procedure in the wrong area, on the wrong organ or on the wrong patient entirely. These errors are believed to be preventable, and they represent a large proportion of malpractice cases. For example, 79 percent of all cases where a medical professional performed a procedure on the wrong eye ended with the patient being compensated for that malpractice. The three main causes of wrong-site surgery have been identified as miscommunication, errors in procedure and a failure of medical leadership.
Individuals who have been negatively impacted by these or other surgical errors may seek to gain fair compensation for the harm that they have suffered. The advice of an attorney with experience in this practice area can be beneficial to anyone who wishes to file a lawsuit and attempt to demonstrate medical malpractice.
Source: ahrq.gov, "Wrong-Site Surgery: A Preventable Medical Error ", Deborah F. Mulloy and Ronda G. Hughes , September 13, 2014