How Your Wrong-Site Surgery Should Have Been Prevented

You checked into the hospital expecting to get better. You certainly didn’t expect for this to happen, but somehow the wrong surgery was performed. Or maybe the right surgery was performed on the wrong side of your body.

Wrong-site surgery is a horrible and preventable accident. It’s pretty rare, but it does happen. Only about 1 out of every 112,000 procedures results in a wrong-site surgery. It’s usually an honest mistake that could have been avoided by a standardized procedure implemented within the hospital.

Whatever the circumstances, you’re now left in an impossible position. You may be recovering from a surgery you didn’t even need, and your life may be changed forever.

Common Cases

Most often, wrong-site surgery occurs in hospitals where there is not a specific procedure in place to identify the exact location to be operated on. The most common fields where this sort of accident occurs are in the orthopedic, podiatric, urological, and neurological fields.

During a 6-month time span, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality tracked wrong-site surgeries all over the country. 59% of these surgeries were performed on the wrong side (left elbow instead of right elbow), 23% were on the correct side, but wrong site (left shoulder instead of left elbow), 14% were the wrong procedure, and 5% were the wrong patient (similar surnames).

Preventing Wrong Site Surgery

There are several ways to prevent wrong-site surgery. Many hospitals that implement a plan to identify patients and procedures dramatically reduce the number of wrong-site surgeries that occur. If you didn’t see any of these things occur, and you’ve been left hurting because of someone’s terrible mistake, you may have a medical malpractice lawsuit against the people who allowed this to happen to you. Here are several good options to prevent this terrible accident from occurring in the first place:


One of the best ways to prevent wrong-site surgery is to come up with a checklist. If the procedure for each patient is clearly outlined and uniform, then everyone is always aware of what is going on. Healthcare professionals should double-check the name of the patient, the site of the surgery, the side of the surgery, and the type of surgery they will perform.


Many healthcare professionals have begun marking the exact location of the surgery on the patient’s skin. It’s even a good idea to go a step further and confirm with the patient when you do it. If you’re the victim, you know it all could have been avoided if they had just confirmed with you before they performed the procedure. It only takes a few simple words.


The healthcare professional should take a quick moment to confirm with everyone involved in the procedure so that the same information has been provided to everyone. They should use identifying words as often as they can, so that everyone is completely aware of what’s going on and there will be no mistake.

If any one of these procedures had been in place, then maybe all of this could have been avoided. But if you’re reading this, clearly something has gone terribly wrong. It may be best to seek legal advice immediately.

This horrible accident should never occur to anyone, but if it has, you may need the advice, support and legal help of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Consultations with our capable attorneys are entirely free and completely confidential.