Few medical mistakes are as horrifying as the ones that involve patients who have had surgery on the wrong body part, undergone the wrong procedure, or had surgery that was intended for another patient. These errors are known as “wrong-site, wrong-procedure, wrong-patient errors” (WSPEs) and should never take place. WSPEs are also signs that there are serious safety issues at a hospital or medical facility. If you’re a North Carolina resident, here are some things you should know about errors resulting in medical malpractice and how you can prevent them.
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Medical malpractice can include wrong-site surgery, which involves opening the wrong side of a patient’s body, i.e. a patient having their left breast to remove cancerous tumors when the tumors are actually on the right.
Neurosurgeons have also made the mistake of performing surgery on the wrong level of the spine which can result in nerve damage for patients. One case of medical malpractice even involved one patient having a cardiac procedure that was meant for a patient with a similar last name.
No patient should have to go through receiving the wrong surgery or having a procedure done on the wrong area of their body. More precautions are being taken to prevent WSPEs such as “sign your site” methods which instruct physicians to mark the surgery site clearly before an operation. However, the marking methods differ among hospitals and doctors with various surgical specialties which could be confusing if a patient was receiving care from more than one physician. The Joint Commission is continuing to explore the benefits of site marking and create a universal protocol to stop WSPEs.