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Why does wrong-site surgery happen?

| May 13, 2016 | surgical errors

Hospitals call wrong-site surgery a never event. Though the name suggests it shouldn’t happen at all, the reality is quite different: There are about 40 never events every week in the United States. So, why do these things happen? Though they can have many causes, a few of the most common ones are listed below.

1. Doctors don’t like checklists or refuse to believe they can make a mistake. Some doctors who have been working in the industry for a long time find these things tedious.

2. Someone sets an X-ray down the wrong direction, and no one flips it the right way before surgery begins.

3. A surgeon simply gets confused and mixes up the right and left sides; a doctor may know he or she is supposed to operate on the left but then accidentally start working on the right, not realizing the mistake until it’s too late.

4. Doing an operation based on the wrong person’s results. This can happen when two people have similar names, but one is in to have an arm amputated, for example, while the other is in for heart surgery.

5. Accidentally putting the marker on the wrong vertebrae when carrying out surgery on the spine. In other cases, the site isn’t marked at all.

In some cases, experts note that a person on the team may think mistakes are being made, but, if he or she is not in charge of the surgery, that person may be scared to speak up, not wanting to correct a surgeon with more experience or seniority.

If you’ve been injured as a result of wrong-site surgery in South Carolina, you may be able to seek financial compensation.

Source: Washington Post, “The Pain of Wrong Site Surgery,” Sandra G. Boodman, accessed May 13, 2016

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