Beebe and O'Neil

What is wrong-site surgery?

You have heard the horror stories and seen the films about urban legends where a patient goes into surgery for a routine procedure such as an appendectomy, and wakes up with their leg amputated. While these occurrences may seem fantastical and completely impossible in the real world of Connecticut, they can in fact happen outside of your nightmares. When this occurs, it is known as "wrong-site surgery."

Wrong-site surgery, frequently abbreviated to WSS by the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Biotechnology Information, happens when a surgeon performs the wrong procedure on a patient, performs a procedure on the wrong patient or performs a procedure at the wrong surgical site, or the wrong part of the patient's body. These sorts of errors can have significant negative impact on the health of the patient, even leading to death, and are classified as negligence and medical malpractice.

If you have ever seen jokes on television about surgeons marking legs as "not this one" when it comes to amputations and operations, it is not actually much of a joke. Surgeons take extensive precautions to avoid a wrong-site surgery event, to protect the health and safety of patients while also not exposing the practice to risk. The NCBI is uncertain the number of wrong-site surgery events that occur in any given period because reporting is voluntary, but these events pose a significant problem. At best the patient may require surgery to correct the procedure. At worst, the patient's body may be permanently damaged or the patient could die.

This is an educational reference post only and does not qualify as legal advice.

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