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Shapiro & Appleton

Wrong Body Part Surgeries Performed on Thousands of Patients Each Year

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The statistics for medical errors in this country is staggering:

  • If medical errors were classified as a disease, it would be the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., killing almost 100,000 patients every year.
  • Approximately 25 percent of hospitalized patients will become ill or injured by a medical error;
  • Between 20 to 30 percent of medical tests, procedure, and medications are unnecessary; and  
  • There are billions of dollars spent every year in healthcare cost because of medical errors.

One of the most disturbing medical errors happens when doctors operate on the wrong body part of a patient. This avoidable medical error occurs in almost 3,000 cases every year – at least seven times per day. These types of medical errors have been classified as “never events” and are defined as “preventable patient safety incidents that should not occur if the available preventative measures have been implemented.”

Surgical errors that have been classified by the medical community as never events include:

  • Surgery or other invasive procedure performed on the wrong body part;
  • Surgery or other invasive procedure performed on the wrong patient;
  • Incorrect surgical or other invasive procedure performed on a patient; and
  • Unintended leaving a foreign object in a patient after surgery or other procedure.

Patients who are going to have surgery can take steps to help prevent these types of never events from happening to them. It’s okay to be aggressive when it comes to your own healthcare. Ask your surgeon what protocols are in place to ensure that the correct procedure on the correct body part will take place. Before receiving anesthesia, inquire as to whether or not the members of the surgical team will be taking a “time out” before the surgery begins. The Joint Commission's Universal Protocol recommends that all surgical teams take this time out right before surgery to communicate that they are all in agreement as to what procedure is about to take place.

Also be aware if medical staff is checking your name and birth date frequently, making sure they have the right patient. It is also okay to request that your doctor initials the surgery site before the surgery takes place.

If you or someone you love has received injuries from a medical error, contact a dedicated Virginia medical malpractice attorney to find out what legal recourse you may against the medical staff and facility for your pain and loss.

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