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Common causes of wrong-site surgeries identified

A wrong-site surgery is a massive mistake. Such a surgery occurs when a California surgeon operates on an incorrect body part, the wrong patient or performs the wrong procedure. In a study of wrong-site surgeries conducted by The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare Project, major factors that contribute to these colossal mistakes were identified. There are numerous causes and mistakes that occur at all stages of an operation, but the study organized the causes they identified into four main perioperative areas, including scheduling, pre-op/holding, operating room and organizational culture.

In terms of scheduling, some factors that contributed to wrong-site surgeries included the use of unauthorized abbreviations or illegible handwriting to note a surgical schedule, as well as the practice of accepting verbal requests to book a surgery, rather than a written document.

A common cause of wrong-site surgeries in which the mistake originated during the pre-op stage was due to missing or incorrect primary documents, such as a patient's physical or a surgeon's booking orders. Additionally, inconsistent site-marking for a surgery, such as through use of a sticker or by someone other than the surgeon, also led to surgical errors.

During the actual operating procedure, the removal of a site mark was also identified as a cause of wrong-site surgeries, as was failure to use primary documentation to confirm the proper procedure, patient and site of surgery. Finally, the study identified mistakes stemming from the organizational culture of some hospitals. Medical facilities which employ passive staff or careless surgeons who have an inconsistent focus on patients had instances of wrong-site surgeries.

A Californian who has suffered harm in a wrong-site surgery due to the negligence of a medical provider or medical facility may have a legal cause of action. An attorney may be able to offer guidance and discuss a patient's options with him or her.

Source:, "Reducing the Risks of Wrong-Site Surgery: Safety Practices from The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare Project," accessed Sep. 16, 2016

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