Wrong Site Error

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One of the most devastating types of medical malpractice occurs when wrong site errors are made during a surgical procedure. Wrong site errors are serious and inexcusably gross acts of medical negligence or recklessness that have the potential to cause serious and deadly patient injuries. When wrong site errors are committed during a surgical procedure, the victims have the legal right to seek compensation for their losses and suffering in a medical malpractice case. Medical malpractice is defined as the failure of a health care professional to exercise due and prudent care in order to avoid causing injury to patients.

When a patient suffers a medical condition for which surgery is required or recommended, that patient reasonably expects that the surgeon and medical staff conducting the surgical procedure will conduct the proper procedure on the appropriate body part to remedy to ailment. Surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other medical professionals must communicate with each other in order to ensure that the surgery goes smoothly and the intended surgical goals are achieved.

Risk Factors and Causes 

The following factors were found to increase the risk of wrong site errors.

  • unusual physical characteristics
  • time restraints and emergency situations
  • surgeries involving multiple surgeons or multiple procedures
  • poor or incomplete pre-surgical planning
  • lack of sufficient institutional protocol
  • negligence
  • lack of communication between involved parties


In the late 1990s the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) initiated a comprehensive study of surgery cases involving wrong site errors. The Commission received reports of more than 150 cases of serious wrong site errors as of 2001. Seventy five percent of these wrong site errors involved surgery on the wrong part of a patient's body. Wrong site errors involving the wrong patient altogether accounted for 13 percent of the reported cases. Another 11 percent involved performing the wrong procedure on the patient.

The study found that wrong site errors were most common in the area of orthopedic and podiatric surgery. One in five wrong site errors occurred during general surgery. Other medical fields sited for wrong site errors include neurosurgery, urology, and others. Most wrong site errors were committed in a hospital or free-standing ambulatory unit.

Contact An Attorney Near You 

Experts claim that major efforts have been made in the medical field to reduce the frequency and risks of wrong site errors. To date, no cohesive nationwide effort has been made to eliminate this problem. Without proper checks and balances in medicine, wrong site errors still pose a rare but serious risk to consumers in America. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as a result of wrong site errors or other medical malpractice situations, please contact us to speak with a qualified attorney in your area who has experience successfully handling medical malpractice cases. A legal professional can evaluate your case to advise you of your legal rights and options and the best way to seek the compensation you deserve.

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