It is natural to be nervous before undergoing a surgical procedure. After all, many things could go wrong. While some problems that arise during surgery are not the fault of anyone, other times a surgeon will commit an act of medical malpractice when operating on a patient. One of these preventable mistakes is a wrong-site surgery.
What is wrong-site surgery?
Wrong-site surgery occurs when a surgeon operates on the incorrect part of the body. For example, you may need surgery on your right knee, but your surgeon mistakenly operates on the left one instead. Or, you may go into surgery to remove a tumor or growth in one location, but your surgeon performs an entirely disparate operation on a different part of your body altogether. These are all preventable events, making them even more problematic.
Preventing wrong-site surgery
A common way surgeons try to prevent wrong-site surgery is to mark the correct side or part of the body to be operated on. Many surgeons will sign their initials onto the surgical site prior to the procedure. However, there are some problems with this tactic. For example, surgical drapes can obscure the markings, or surgical prep teams might wipe them off while cleaning the site. Some say a better tactic is to mark the wrong side or part of the body. This way, even if the correct area is obscured, the surgeon will note the markings on the wrong area of the body and can avoid making a surgical mistake.
All doctors owe their patients a duty of professional care. This duty is to treat patients with the appropriate level of care that other physicians would exercise in similar circumstances. Wrong-site surgery is especially egregious because it is a type of surgical mistake that is entirely preventable. If you have been the victim of wrong-site surgery in Hawaii, make sure that you understand all your rights and the options you may have to seek compensation.