The prevalence and consequences of wrong-site surgeries

On Behalf of | Sep 11, 2023 | Albuquerque Medical Malpractice Law Blog, Blog

Wrong-site surgeries occur in many medical settings across New Mexico. These errors often lead to severe consequences for patients, both physically and emotionally.

This persistent issue highlights a need for a reevaluation of modern surgical practices to mitigate its consequences.

The prevalence of wrong-site surgeries

A 2022 study revealed that wrong-site surgeries accounted for 6% of all “sentinel events.” Sentinel events are patient safety events that result in death, permanent harm or severe temporary harm to a patient. Several factors contribute to the prevalence of wrong-site surgeries. Time pressure, communication breakdowns and inadequate preoperative verification procedures are among them.

The consequences of wrong-site surgeries

The physical consequences of a wrong-site surgery are often severe. Patients may experience unnecessary pain, infection, scarring and even permanent disability. Beyond the physical harm, wrong-site surgeries may also have a profound emotional impact on patients. Feelings of anger, mistrust and anxiety often accompany the realization that a medical error has taken place.

Some people who have wrong-site surgeries may also become fearful of undergoing surgical treatment again in the future. Patients may also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the trauma. This type of error may also take a significant financial toll, as correcting the mistake often requires more surgeries and treatments.

Preventative measures, such as education and reporting systems, help reduce the occurrence of wrong-site surgeries.  They also help enhance the safety and well-being of patients. Medical employers, too, must make efforts to avoid this troubling issue and help restore patient trust in the health care system.


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