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Wrong-site surgery causes trauma for California patients

Surgery carries risks, many of which are due to the unpredictability of the human body. A risk that should be utterly preventable, but unfortunately continues to occur, is the risk of wrong-site surgery. Wrong-site surgery is a type of surgical error that occurs when a physician operates on the wrong part of the body, performs the wrong surgical procedure or even operates on the wrong patient.

It seems alarming that wrong-site surgery could possibly occur. Operation on the wrong eye, removing the incorrect limb or any other such significant procedure is a major event in a patient's life and has likely been preceded by numerous doctor's appointments and consultations prior to the surgery.

California residents would hope that the doctors and nurses were paying attention to the crucial and basic details of which body parts to operate on and which procedures to perform. However, evidence shows that careless surgeons and negligent operating room staff make these types of serious mistakes all too frequently. A surgeon may perform the wrong procedure due to similarities over patients' names, or a neurosurgeon may operate on the wrong level of the spine.

When injuries occur as a result of wrong-site surgery, compensation may be available for the victims through a malpractice lawsuit. Results of malpractice lawsuits vary widely, but the rates of malpractice awards for wrong-site eye surgery and wrong-site orthopedic surgery are particularly high, with approximately 79 percent and 84 percent, respectively, resulting in awards for the victims.

Though wrong-site surgical errors are also known as "never events", as in an event that should never occur, unfortunately they do occur. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a wrong-site surgery or other surgical error, it may be in your best interests to seek out legal advice regarding the potential avenues for compensation.

Source: AHRQ PSNet, "Wrong-site, Wrong-Procedure, and Wrong-Patient Surgery," Accessed on March 24, 2015

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