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Is it possible for a surgeon to operate in the wrong place?

February 19th, 2015
On behalf of David Bowling of The Bowling Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation posted in Medical Malpractice on Thursday, February 19, 2015.

One does not need to be a medical professional to appreciate that surgery is a procedure subject to exacting requirements. Even a small mistake, such as an anesthesia error, or a slip with an instrument that perforates an organ, or accidentally leaving a surgical sponge behind when the surgery is complete can have severe consequences not only for the patient but also for the surgical team and the hospital that they work for.

That surgical errors happen is one thing, it can even be understandable given the attention to detail required, but what about larger mistakes that seemingly defy explanation? Is it possible that a surgeon can complete an operation on you, only to realize later that the surgery was performed in the wrong place? Or worse, what if the hospital or the surgeon confuses you with someone else, and you get that person’s operation, and the other person receives the operation you were supposed to have?

Incredible as it may seem, research exists demonstrating that wrong-site surgeries, or even wrong-patient surgeries do indeed take place. While they are seeming rare occurrences, that lack of evident frequency may be misleading: it is possible if not likely that the incidence of such gross errors is significantly underreported, in no small part because of medical malpractice and hospital negligence liability concerns on the part of health care providers.

Most of the time, about three of every four instances, a wrong-site surgery takes place because of breakdowns in communication among the surgical team, although it is sometimes the case that multiple factors can play a role, including failure of personnel to follow their own established procedures or the occurrence of events that lead to confusion during the surgery. Regardless of the underlying causes, these mistakes frequently lead to lawsuits, and those lawsuits often result in damages awards.

Most of the time when you need surgery in a Louisiana hospital, you can feel safe to believe that the surgery will be done in the right place and that your medical condition will improve as a result. But if for any reason you believe that a mistake was made before, during or after the surgery, even if your doubts seem incredible, even to you, you should consult with an attorney to determine if you have a cause of action.

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