Prevention and wrong-site surgery precautions

Florida patients might wonder how a wrong-site surgical error could possibly happen. Prior to such a procedure, many factors can result in a breakdown in leadership, communication or important procedural activities. When such a breakdown occurs, mistakes can happen, and a patient can suffer the most significant consequences, experiencing potentially permanent damage physically and emotionally. At the same time, a medical facility and its personnel can suffer too as a surgical error affects records and carries potentially significant financial and professional consequences.

The process for the patient and surgical team can affect the outcome, making it important to be deliberate and careful during patient assessment and team briefing prior to a procedure. Communication with the patient is important, and a sign-the-site approach may ensure that the patient acknowledges the procedure and that the surgical team can adequately review the location. Similarly, good communication about the planned procedure among those to perform it allows for clarification on any points of confusion.

There are important risk factors that could interfere with the outcome of a surgery as well. Situations involving significant pressure or time constraints can be conducive to errors. Such situations may include emergencies, a full schedule of surgeries or changes in rooms. More than one procedure or surgeon can complicate things as well. Unusual physical features such as deformities or obesity in a patient may also increase the chance of error. An individual who is aware of such issues may want to be particularly vigilant during pre-operative discussions about the procedure.

Many wrong-site surgeries result in medical malpractice awards to those affected. The legal implications for a surgeon or hospital involved in such a surgical mistake may be more significant if established procedures have been ignored. A patient harmed by a wrong-site error may want to document conversations and actions taken following the incident for possible use in a malpractice case, and a lawyer could provide further guidance.

Sourceahrq.gov, “Wrong-Site Surgery: A Preventable Medical Error “, Deborah F. Mulloy and Ronda G. Hughes , September 19, 2014