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Wrong-site surgery can lead to malpractice claims

Last week's blog post discussed the serious trauma that can occur when a person suffers an injury to his spinal cord. When Chicago residents have significant problems with their backs and spines they can sometimes undergo surgeries to repair the damage. Surgery, whether it is performed on the spine or another body part, always brings with it inherent risks.

From surgical site infections to other complications, a myriad of problems can occur before, during and after a surgical procedure. In some cases a surgery may go well but still may present a major issue for a patient. This can occur when a patient has a surgery performed on the wrong surgical site.

In a resource for nurses promulgated by the National Institute of Health, wrong-site surgery is defined as a surgery that is performed on the wrong side or part of the body, a surgery that is performed on the wrong patient or a surgery that performed on a patient that did not require it. Wrong-site surgeries are mistakes. Doctors who commit them can be liable to their patients under legal theories based on medical malpractice.

In many cases a wrong-site surgery occurs because a doctor, medical team or other responsible entity failed to follow protocols that would have enabled the patient's treating medical staff to check that the right procedure was to be performed on the correct part of the patient's body. This can occur when medical practitioners fail to follow procedures or when medical centers fail to have such procedures in place. In either case a wrong-site surgery can lead to pain, suffering and other issues for a victim.

Individuals who have suffered wrong-site surgeries often must recover from procedures that they simply did not need. Some also suffer due to prolonged waits in receiving the treatments they actually do need. Those who suffer at the hands of negligent and reckless medical practitioners can in some cases pursue their damages for their personal injuries and other compensable losses.

Source: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, "Wrong-Site Surgery: A Preventable Medical Error," Deborah F. Mulloy and Ronda G. Hughes, Accessed March 19, 2015

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