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Medical Negligence
Wrong Site Surgery

Wrong Site Surgery

When medical staff mistakenly operate on the wrong part of a patient's body (such as the wrong limb or organ), or perform an operation on the wrong patient entirely, then it is said that wrong site surgery has occurred. Such an event is a serious medical error, and can result in long-term complications for a patient.

Over recent years Glynns have unfortunately dealt with many cases of wrong site surgery, some of which have involved:-

  • Operating on the wrong organ eg. operating on the wrong kidney during removal of kidney stones;
  • Amputation of the wrong limb;
  • Operating on the wrong site of cancer, resulting in a failure to remove the cancerous tissue;
  • Confusing which side of the body is being operated on eg. attempting to remove a hernia from the left side of the groin when medical notes state a hernia on the right side.

Preventing Wrong Site Surgery

To prevent wrong site surgery from occurring, the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) and the Royal College of Surgeons have together issued a strict protocol that medical staff must follow before, during and after surgery. This should begin in the ward, where the patient should be identified, the medical notes consulted, the operation confirmed with the patient (or a family member) and the site for surgery marked. These checks should then be done at regular intervals, including in the anaesthetic room and in the operating theatre.

Of particular importance is the pre-operative marking, as this provides the operating surgeon with a visual indicator to follow during surgery. Although there are some exceptions to the rule such as emergency surgery that should not be delayed pre-operating marking should be verified and signed off at four different stages before the operation begins.

Wrong Site Surgery: Causes And Consequences

If this protocol is not followed, and the necessary checks are not made at every stage of the procedure, then mistakes are likely to be made. This is because medical staff have not made themselves fully aware of the task at hand, and begin surgery without a comprehensive knowledge of the patient and treatment required.

When wrong site surgery does happen there are a series of consequences for a patient, who will not only be left with unnecessary scarring, but will also have to undergo further surgery to the correct site. A patient may also suffer additional complications, both physically (for example suffering ongoing symptoms or a deterioration in condition) and psychologically (such as stress from having to have another operation).

Wrong Site Surgery And Medical Negligence

Wrong site surgery is classified by the NPSA as a 'never event'. This means it is an incident that should never be allowed to happen, and thus there are rules medical staff must follow to prevent such an error occurring. If this protocol is breached and wrong site surgery is performed as a result, then there is a serious case medical negligence and compensation can be claimed.

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Early legal assistance can be vital so please contact us if you would like to discuss your situation. Please call us free on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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