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Wrong-site surgeries: what you need to know

According to a recent study, surgeons operate on the wrong site in about 1 out of every 100,000 surgeries. This is a scary statistic. A wrong-site error means that the doctor operated on the wrong body part, on the wrong side of the patient’s body, or even on the wrong person.

Wrong-site surgeries are preventable. Although it is not clear how exactly to prevent these errors, the study found that poor communication among the medical staff is often to blame. Regardless of the cause, surgical errors such as wrong-site errors are unacceptable. They can have devastating consequences for the patient and for the patient’s family. 

In Louisiana and Mississippi, patients who have been injured as a result of a wrong-site surgery can file a medical malpractice claim. Medical malpractice claims can be difficult and complicated. Luckily, wrong-site surgeries fall under a legal doctrine called res ipsa loquitor. In medical malpractice lawsuits, the plaintiff generally has the burden to prove that the medical provider was negligent. This can be extremely tough to do. Under the res ipsa loquitor doctrine, the burden of proof shifts to the medical provider to prove that he or she was in fact not negligent.

In Latin, res ipsa loquitor means “the thing speaks for itself.” It means that a plaintiff needs to show only that a particular injury occurred, and the medical provider is presumed to be negligent. Operating on the wrong site is an example of this type of injury. Simply put, wrong-site surgeries should never happen.

If you or a loved one was injured as a result of a wrong-site surgery, consider speaking with an attorney. Medical malpractice lawsuits, even those that may qualify under res ipsa loquitor, can be very complicated. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you through the process of filing a claim.

Source: LiveScience, “Major Surgical Mistakes Still Happen in the US,” Laura Geggel, June 11, 2015


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