Philadelphia Medical Malpractice: Incision Location Errors

Surgeries are incredibly complicated medical procedures. However, just because they are complex on the whole does not mean that every aspect of a surgery is difficult to perform well. Some things, like operating on the right body part, are actually very easy. However, surgeons still somehow make these mistakes, resulting in wrong-site surgeries or incision location errors.

Incision location errors are recognized as “never events” by the medical community, and are frequently the source of a medical malpractice lawsuit in Philadelphia.

Incision Location Errors

There are a small handful of surgical errors that the medical community recognizes as being absolutely inexcusable and devastatingly serious. To stress how often these errors should happen, they have been called “never events.”

One of these never events is an incision location error, where the surgeon performs the right surgery on the right patient, but in the wrong place. Also called “wrong site” or “wrong side” surgical errors, incision location errors are the height of surgical negligence and can be permanently debilitating for the unfortunate victim. Victims who were counting on the surgeon to correct their pressing medical condition are left with that condition, the recovery time and attendant risks of the completed surgery, and the results of the surgery on a completely healthy body part.

Stats Show Incision Location Errors are Shockingly Common

Despite the fact that operating on the wrong body part seems exceptionally negligent and is a recognized never event, studies have shown that it happens disturbingly often. One study from 2003 surveyed 1,050 hand surgeons in the U.S. Out of these surgeons, 217, or 21%, reported performing a wrong-site surgery at least once in their careers. Out of the estimated 6,700,000 procedures within the scope of the study, 242 were done on the wrong body part: One for every 27,686 hand surgeries. Additionally, another 163 surgeons surveyed, or 16%, reported that they had prepared for a surgery, but noticed that they were about to make an incision location error before starting the procedure.

While hand surgeries are especially prone to an incision location error because of the number of fingers on each hand, the results of the study were stunning to the medical community.

Causes of an Incision Location Error

Incision location errors are especially bothersome because they are so easily prevented. Surgeons are supposed to mark where they are going to perform a surgical procedure on their patient's body, and then to sign or at least initial those marks to ensure that they perform the operation on the correct spot. This would take mere seconds of a surgeon's time: Making the body marking should be a standard and routine part of preparing a patient, and then looking for the mark immediately before beginning the incision, are not onerous. Nevertheless, surgeons have been found to fail to take these basic precautions.

The results can be devastating, and require the legal help of the medical malpractice attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian. Contact our Philadelphia law office online.

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