Surgical errors such as operating on the wrong person or the wrong side of the body are never supposed to happen, though they do in New Jersey and across the country. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, these preventable surgical mistakes occur in one of every 112,994 cases. Though by that estimation the event is rare, it can have devastating effects on the patient.
Wrong-site surgeries include any of the following:
- A patient undergoing the wrong procedure
- A physician operating on the wrong body part
- A patient having a procedure intended for someone else
While it is shocking that these circumstances happen, it is even more devastating that a study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that perhaps only 10 percent of these never-events are ever appropriately reported to The Joint Commission.
The physical and emotional repercussions of wrong-site surgery are profound, made even more frustrating by the fact that it is entirely preventable. The Joint Commission has issued a report offering advice to medical care providers to implement comprehensive checklists prior to an operation. That checklist would include marking the side and site of surgery and checking to ensure it is correct.
Further, medical staff relieving each other should rely on open, thorough communication regarding a patient’s condition. That communication should extend to any professional who will come into contact with the patient, The Joint Commission states.
Patients in New Jersey who experience medical malpractice such as wrong-site surgery do have legal recourse. The state gives people two years from the date of the injury or from when the injury was discovered to file a lawsuit.