Surgery is one area of health care in which preventable medical errors and near misses can occur. Until the 1999 Institute of Medicine report, clinicians were unaware of the number of surgery-associated injuries, deaths, and near misses. Up until this point, there was no concrete process for recognizing and reporting these events.
One of the areas of greatest concern in surgical errors is wrong-site surgery, commonly referred to as WSS. It can refer to surgery that was performed on the wrong side of the body, performing the wrong surgical procedure, or surgery performed on the wrong patient.
Though WSS is a rare event, it can be a devastating experience for the patient as it can cause serious complications and pain. While mistakes can happen on any job, wrong-site surgeries are considered a preventable medical error. Surgeons are expected to implement standard procedures to prevent these devastating occurrences.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the North American Spine Society came together to address these occurrences of WSS and to spread awareness of its severity. Together, they reviewed 10 years of medical malpractice claims. They then developed a campaign to encourage surgeons and medical professionals to carefully mark the right surgical site.
Many medical professionals have found that, in addition to properly marking the correct surgery site, it has been helpful to also mark the side that should not be operated on. Before sending patients to surgery, the support staff verify with the surgical team exactly where the surgery will occur and why.
The North American Spine Society then added even more precautionary steps, including a surgery checklist and procedure verification.
The Universal Protocol for preventing WSS, which took many years and the work of many professionals to develop, should be adhered to on all applicable cases. In general, measures should be taken that require less reliance on memory.
All health care professionals have an obligation to comply with the Universal Protocol and to speak up if they feel patient safety is being compromised in any way. Nurses, specifically perianesthesia nurses, should function as the patient’s advocate and foster procedures that ensure right-site surgery.
If you’ve been the victim of a wrong-site surgery or any other surgery-related injury, you shouldn’t have to live with the consequences of someone else’s mistakes. There are several procedures in place to ensure that you can come out of a surgery as healthy (if not healthier) than you did when you entered it. If your medical team failed you, contact our team for a no obligation consultation to learn your next steps.
Rinehardt Law Firm is the answer to your personal injury needs. Our team of attorneys and case managers have represented clients in in Mansfield and throughout central and north central Ohio for years. We treat every new client as if he or she were part of our family by providing clear communication, building a strong relationship, and using our experience to provide legal guidance that’s in his or her best interests. We offer free consultations with no obligation, so don’t hesitate to contact our team about your legal matter.