Wrong-site surgery is one of the worst things that can happen to a patient, leaving known issues untreated and potentially causing irreparable damage that may even result in disability or make the person’s condition far worse. For instance, if there was an operation to remove a damaged eye and the surgeon removed the wrong eye, the proper one would still have to be removed after the mistake was discovered, rendering the patient fully blind.
Operating on the wrong side of the body — the wrong arm, the wrong leg, the wrong lung, etc — is only one type of wrong-site surgery, however. It’s important to note that it also includes:
- Operating on the wrong part of the body or at the wrong location, even when the operation is carried out on the right side. This could include operating on an elbow instead of a knee, for example.
- Operating on the wrong patient, despite carrying out the “correct” procedure at the intended location.
- Doing the wrong operation, even when it happens on the right side and with the correct patient.
- Doing the wrong procedure entirely. This may include not doing surgery when it is needed or operating on someone who needed a specific treatment other than surgery.
In short, wrong-site surgery includes many of the most catastrophic mistakes and errors that can occur in a hospital. In every single case, it means that the patient does not get proper care and the right treatment, and the harm they suffer can be enormous. It is critical that they know about all of the legal options they have.