Just like all other human beings, doctors and surgeons make mistakes, too. However, when healthcare workers act negligently while on the job, the mistakes that they make cause significantly more damage to the people who are counting on them. Additionally, there are some errors that healthcare workers should never make, regardless of the circumstances. One of these errors is when a surgeon performs the correct surgery, but on the wrong patient.
Wrong patient surgeries are the results of a staggering amount of negligence, are easily preventable, and cause severe injuries to the patient involved. It is for the victims of these circumstances that the medical malpractice laws in Philadelphia were created, and why the personal injury and medical malpractice attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian work tirelessly for their clients.
Wrong Patient Surgeries are Not Rare
The medical field recognizes a small set of circumstances that it describes as “never events.” These include errors that doctors and surgeons should absolutely never make in the course of their careers. Unfortunately, these “never events” are shockingly common.
Wrong patient surgeries are one of these never events. However, they still happen at a disturbing rate. Exactly how common they are, however, is difficult to say: When hospitals make mistakes and a patient suffers, the incident is supposed to be recorded in the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). However, the NPDB assigns mistakes to specific categories, and a wrong patient surgery is not coded separately from other mistakes.
However, in one study, it was discovered that doctors in Colorado had performed at least 25 wrong patient surgeries over the course of 6.5 years.
Wrong Patient Surgeries Can be Deadly
Obviously, receiving the wrong surgery can cause serious health problems. Many surgeries are designed to either remove an internal object or add an external one, and if you do not need either procedure, the implications of the surgery are almost never minor. Body parts do not operate independently – they rely on one another to keep you healthy and perform their inner functions. When you are the victim in a wrong patient surgery, the impact of that surgery often extends well beyond just the site of the surgery, itself – it often leads to severe complications, elsewhere.
What to Do After Suffering from a Wrong Patient Surgery
If you or someone you love has been hurt when a negligent surgeon performed a surgery that was meant for someone else, the recovery process is likely to be long and costly. You deserve to be compensated for that time and that expense.
Luckily, victims of so-called never events can benefit from the legal doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, which infers someone's liability when the outcome of their conduct could only have been the result of their negligence. The name of the doctrine is Latin for “the thing speaks for itself.”
Res ipsa loquitur cases are rare because there are very few situations that are so obviously the result of someone's negligence that little other proof is needed. Never events like a wrong patient surgery, however, can be one of those situations.