There are not many medical malpractice claims more emotional or devastating than wrong patient surgery.
This refers to a surgical procedure that is performed on the wrong patient, which can cause serious injuries or even death, depending on the type of surgery that was done, and the health of the patient at the time of the surgery.
But how does this type of mistake happen?
It’s much easier to understand how a surgeon could perform surgery on the wrong side of a patient, or on the wrong organ, but performing surgery on a wrong patient doesn’t seem possible.
Here’s why it happens, and how hospitals are trying to stop it from happening.
How Does Wrong Patient Surgery Occur?
Wrong patient surgery most often occurs due to two patients sharing the same last name, or even sharing the same first name.
In fact, mistaken patient identification is the biggest cause of wrong patient surgery according to a recent study that analyzed 7,613 patient safety events at 181 healthcare facilities.
The World Health Organization reported that misidentification is a threat that can result in medication errors, transfusion errors, testing errors, wrong person procedures, and the discharge of infants to the wrong families.
Communication breakdowns are the biggest reason for mistaken patient identification, which highlights the need for hospitals to significantly improve their safety checks and documentation processes to prevent these tragic mistakes.
Safeguards To Prevent Wrong Patient Surgery
The biggest safeguard against wrong patient surgery is a surgical safety checklist.
Before patients are wheeled into an operating room, doctors and nurses will read the checklist, which includes the patient’s full name, age, social security number, and the procedure that doctors will perform.
The patient is required to confirm each of these items to ensure that the information is accurate, and that the procedure is correct.
Some hospitals have also implemented electronic health records that go a step further by displaying the patient’s photo, so that even if first and last names are the same, the picture will determine if the right patient is matched with the correct procedure.
Unfortunately, if a hospital staff is busy, or a doctor has multiple surgeries within a compressed period of time, the surgical safety checklist may be ignored, which can result in wrong person surgery.
They key, therefore, is for hospitals to ensure that these protocols are always used, and that they dedicate a staff member to double-check that safety checklists have been done for each surgical procedure.
How a Lawyer Can Help You
No matter how obvious it may seem, wrong patient surgery claims are not as open-and-shut as most people think. That’s because proving negligence can be a challenge, because you must show that a surgeon did not exercise the reasonable care that someone in the profession would be expected to provide.
If you have a wrong patient surgery claim, you need an experienced team behind you, such as the lawyers at Badgley Law Group. We have the resources and expertise to win these claims, and provide you with rightful compensation. Please call us today at 407-781-0420 for a free legal consultation.