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Wrong-site surgical errors as a form of medical malpractice

North Carolina patients might be shocked to learn that the rate of wrong-site surgical errors has not declined over the past decade. Wrong-site surgeries may have catastrophic impacts due to the danger of surgery in general.

Most of the common reasons for wrong-site surgical errors, according to a 2010 report from the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, involve poor communication on some level. They often stem from wrong information on the operating-room schedule or on the patient's medical records. These errors may stem from lack of adequate communication among medical staff. The report suggests that it is critical that all members of an operating team be on the same page.

There have been numerous studies on best practices regarding communication to reduce the chances of wrong-site surgical errors, and many hospitals set policies that health care employees and surgeons must abide by these practices. However, when surgeons fail to do things like mark the part of the body scheduled for operation with their initials due to a belief that the practice is not necessary, they run the risk not only of permanently injuring a patient but also being found liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

If a wrong-site surgical error leads to further medical complications or injury, a patient may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the surgeon or hospital charged with care. A medical malpractice lawyer may be able to assist with getting fair compensation from the injuring party to pay for those bills. That attorney would be responsible for drawing a line of direct cause from the health care provider's actions to the injury or illness that resulted from them.

Source: aaos.org, "Patient safety means patients first", James H. Herndon, September 10, 2014

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