You should never wake up in a hospital to discover that your surgeon performed the operation on the wrong part of your body. But this is one of three commonly known surgical errors committed by doctors, and each may inflict serious emotional distress and damage your health. 

PSNet describes each of these three wrong medical errors, known collectively as wrong- site patient errors (WSPEs). These medical errors can result from doctors:

  • Performing surgery on the wrong part of the body;
  • Performing the wrong procedure on a patient;
  • Treating the wrong patient.

The medical field refers to WSPEs as ‘never’ events because they should never happen. If they do, they indicate improper safety practices on the part of health care providers. In many cases, these ‘never’ events occur because doctors and nurses do not properly communicate information about a patient to each other. These defects in conveying information may happen long before the patient ever reaches an operation room. 

The good news is that WSPEs are actually quite rare in the operating room. According to the PSNet website, a significant study on ‘never’ events discovered errors during surgery are only likely to occur once in a hospital every five to ten years. On the other hand, WSPEs occur at a higher rate in places outside of a surgery location, like in an ambulance or during interventional radiology. 

Nonetheless, when a wrong-site, wrong-procedure or wrong-patient error does occur, the effects can be devastating and could negatively impact a patient for the rest of their life.

This article is for information only, and does not constitute legal advice.