Studies Show Wrong-Site Surgery Medical Malpractice is Highly Underreported


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Most sources indicate that wrong-site surgery occurs approximately 40 times each week in the U.S. However, this number might only represent a 10 percent slice of actual cases of this particular form of medical malpractice, according to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Ending Wrong-Site Surgery An effort to reduce the number of wrong-site surgeries was launched in 2013 by an organization known as Safe Surgery 2015. The group targeted South Carolina as the initial test-state and the team includes doctors with roots in Charleston. Medical malpractice was expected to be curbed to the extent of saving 500 lives a year within the state by using a simple checklist. Samples are available on their website, but the main preventative measures involve multiple members of the surgical team acknowledging the patient's name, the procedure and the surgery site. It also requires that the surgeon ask everyone in the room to speak up if they have concerns. Although humble, the checklist might be enough to put an end to wrong-site surgeries entirely, but Safe Surgery 2015 has remained relatively dormant and no findings of success or failure are widely available. The World Health Organization (WHO) also launched a similar global program, and it was noted that checklists made little difference in high-income countries. On the other hand, a trial run by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) is showing promise. Aptly referred to as "Sign Your Site," surgeons are literally required to mark upon the skin of their patients exactly where surgery is to be performed and then initial it. As an additional preventative measure, they should also mark "No" on the opposite side, and both areas are to be confirmed by multiple parties in the operating room. What Goes Wrong Most hospitals have a protocol in place anyway, whether it's a checklist designed by the hospital itself, or one created by an entity like WHO or Safe Surgery 2015. While they may help curb some surgical issues because multiple systems must fail in order for an error to occur, they don't put an end to it entirely. One case published in The New England Journal of Medicine highlights a doctor's accounts of a surgery gone awry. He mentions specifically that a nurse was behind on documentation, that the patient's markings had been washed away by alcohol, which was used as a disinfectant, and that the required "time out" to verify the surgery site between the patient and staff was not heeded. Essentially, checklists are only beneficial if the staff actually uses them, which is why they largely fail.

Charleston Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you think your doctor made a medical mistake, like performing surgery on the wrong site, seek medical attention immediately. In some cases, medical staff will attempt to sweep things under the rug or make light of the incident. However, these errors can cause a lifetime of complications and will sometimes even be fatal. You may need help proving that the error occurred in order to receive reparations to cover the cost of your medical bills, time off from work, and for pain and suffering. Moreover, there may be multiple parties responsible for your incident, and it's important to have an experienced litigation attorney on your side when going up against hospitals and insurance companies. Please use our online form or speak directly to one of our attorneys about your case by calling 1(800)610-2546.

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