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Who is Liable for Wrong-Site Surgery?

May 7, 2022

When it comes to surgery, there are various types of errors that absolutely should not occur. This includes mistakes like leaving foreign objects inside of a person’s body, using too much or too little medication, or operating at the wrong site on the body.

Wrong-site surgery is a broad term used to indicate various surgical procedures performed incorrectly. Here, we want to properly define wrong-site surgery, describe how this happens, and discuss who could be held liable for these incidents.

What is Wrong-Site Surgery?

The term “wrong-site surgery” is rather broad and encompasses a range of surgical procedures. Wrong-site surgery can refer to performing a procedure on the wrong patient, the wrong body part, and the wrong side of the body. Additionally, this can also be used to describe performing surgery on the wrong side of a correctly identified organ or performing on the wrong part of a correctly identified site.

Who is Responsible for a Wrong-Site Surgery?

When a wrong-site surgery occurs, it often makes the news. When we look at WebMD, we can see that University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, announced it had transplanted a kidney into the wrong patient in July of 2021. In April of 2020, a radiologist in Boca Raton, Florida, was sued for placing a stent into the wrong kidney of a patient.

Wrong-site surgery is not something that doctors specifically focus on because it is so rare, according to Mary R. Kwaan, MD, a colorectal surgeon at UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA. However, just because something is rare does not mean that it does not happen. In fact, it can be argued that wrong-site surgeries are not all that rare. Dr. Kwaan estimated in 2006 that there were 25 to 52 wrong-site surgeries performed each week across the country.

Someone has to be held accountable when a wrong-site surgery occurs.

When a wrong-site surgery occurs, it is very likely that a medical malpractice lawsuit will be initiated by the patient or their family members if the patient dies as a result of the incident. An experienced Kentucky medical malpractice attorney can assist in the legal process associated with determining liability and negligence. There are supposed to be various steps in place to help prevent mistakes from occurring during surgery. This includes properly identifying the patient and the procedure to be performed multiple times before it actually occurs. When these procedures are not followed, someone, or multiple individuals, on the surgical staff may face liability. This includes trained medical professionals and possibly even the medical facility where the procedure was performed.

What Compensation Is Available in a Wrong-Site Surgery Lawsuit?

Individuals who are harmed as a result of wrong-site surgical procedures should be able to recover various types of compensation if their medical malpractice claim is successful. This includes compensation for all medical expenses related to the incident and the procedures needed to correct the mistake, lost wages if a person cannot work while recovering, pain and suffering damages caused by the wrong-site surgery, and more. The total amount of compensation paid to a wrong-site surgery victim will vary depending on various factors, including the severity of the injury or illness caused by the mistake, how long it takes for a person to recover after the mistake has been corrected, and how much emotional and physical trauma a person endures as a result of the mistake.