Performing surgery is an extremely delicate business. The saying, “There is no such thing as a minor surgery” is accurate; every operation is serious and deserves the utmost care and attention by the surgeon and surgical team. One of the most severe examples of a surgical error is a wrong-site surgery. If you or a loved one is the victim of wrong-site surgery in West Virginia, find out who you can hold liable for this type of medical malpractice.

What Is Wrong-Site Surgery?

Wrong-site surgery is a broad term that can refer to several different errors that are all classified as “never events,” including operating on the wrong body part. A never event is so-called because it should never happen – it is a significant error that will not occur if a surgeon or assistive team follows proper safety procedures and the medical industry’s standards of care. Examples of never events are operating on the wrong patient, making an incision on the wrong place or body part, operating on the wrong side of the body, and performing the wrong surgery.

How Does This “Never Event” Happen?

Despite being deemed a never event in the medical field, wrong-site surgeries occur consistently in hospitals and surgical centers throughout America. Although statistics on wrong-site surgeries are difficult to come by, one source attributed 13.4 percent of unexpected occurrences in health care settings that resulted in serious physical or psychological injury to this never event. A recent article by WebMD cited a study that estimated 25 to 52 wrong-site surgical errors committed each week in the U.S.

The same study said that since surgeons believe it is rare and won’t happen to them, they often do not take extra precautions to prevent wrong-site surgeries. These never events can be caused by lax surgical procedures, a failure to communicate by the medical team, a failure to double-check a patient’s chart and surgery board, scheduling errors, mistakes made by radiologists and pathologists, and oversights by the surgeon leading up to the operation.

Investigations into wrong-site surgeries specifically found a high number of cases where the medical professional mixed up left and right. Studies have found that trouble with left-right judgments is relatively common, with about 15 percent of people struggling to distinguish the two. During an operation, a patient may be turned around and covered with surgical drapings, making it more difficult to distinguish the patient’s left from right. A surgeon who is relying on memory may mix up patients or surgeries.

Who Can Be Held Responsible for a Wrong-Site Surgery?

Wrong-site surgeries are always preventable. They can be avoided with measures such as care when scheduling surgeries, proper attention being given to a surgery by all parties involved, checklists to make sure everything is in order, preoperative verifications and marking the operative site ahead of time by drawing on the skin. These issues occur most often when someone is negligent or fails to use the proper amount of care according to the standards of the medical industry.

If a surgeon, surgical assistant, nurse or another health care practitioner fails to adhere to the standards of patient care during your operation and this resulted in a wrong-site surgery, you have the right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in West Virginia against the at-fault party. You can hold the medical provider liable, or financially responsible, for the injuries and damages that you suffered because of the preventable mistake. This may mean the individual surgeon if he or she is an independent contractor or the larger health care facility if the surgeon or defendant was an employee of the hospital.

A successful medical malpractice case for wrong-site surgery could pay for your medical care, necessary revision surgeries, pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, lost quality of life, and more. It is up to you or your personal injury attorney to prove that a defendant is liable for your losses using evidence. The best way to build a strong medical malpractice case against one or more parties is by hiring an attorney to represent you. Learn more about this type of lawsuit by requesting a free consultation at Manchin Injury Law Group.

Attorney Timothy Manchin established the Manchin Injury Law Group in 2011 after his law partner of more than 25 years became a West Virginia circuit court judge. His focus is on helping individual clients and entire families victimized by negligent acts.

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