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How common are wrong site, procedure or patient errors?

Medical malpractice is a far too common occurrence in the United States. It may surprise you to learn about one common mistake that doctors make though. It’s a wrong body part, site, procedure or patient error. Instances such as these are commonly known as “never events” because there’s no excuse or justification for them to ever happen under any circumstances.

Wrong site or wrong procedure errors are fortunately fairly rare. A recent study conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality revealed that these types of medical errors happen in approximately one out of every 112,000 surgical procedures. This means that some hospitals only see such an event once every five or 10 years.

Industry analysts argue that this estimate may be understated. They highlight how these statistics generally only capture how many errors take place in operating rooms and not ambulatory surgery or interventional radiology centers. They argue that the latter may have significantly higher error rates. Industry analysts point out that roughly half of these mistakes happen outside of the operating room.

Regulators have taken steps in recent years to reduce the incidence rate of the wrong site or procedure errors. One technique that doctors have been taught to employ in recent years is to sign the operating site before initiating a surgical procedure. It’s been difficult for regulators to get all doctors to adhere to this approach though.

Another approach that hospitals have used to help doctors avoid wrong site or procedure errors is to require them to perform a surgical timeout before an operation begins. This allows for doctors and their teams to review the file and the planned course of action before the invasive procedure begins.

Wrong site or procedure errors are considered a sentinel event. This means that they can cause permanent or severe harm or kill a patient. Such an oversight can significantly damage the reputation of the hospital or staff involved in the incident as well.

If you’ve been the victim of a wrong site or procedure incident here in Baton Rouge, then you may be entitled to monetary damages for pain and suffering, lost wages and possibly emotional distress. An attorney can help you hold your Louisiana health care provider accountable for their indiscretion so that they hopefully don’t do the same to anyone else again.

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