Liability for Damages if a Doctor Performed the Wrong Operation

While it may sound unbelievable, the number of incorrect operations performed in the United States every year is high. In fact, a 2012 Johns Hopkins study estimated that a U.S. surgeon performs the wrong procedure on a patient 20 times a week. This can cause significant problems for a number of reasons – for one, the patient is still in need of the procedure the surgeon was supposed to perform.

So if a surgeon performed the wrong procedure on you and you suffered damages, talk to an attorney about taking legal action. Ron Meyers & Associates can help, so call us at (360) 459-5600.

Types of Wrong Operation Incidents

There are two common types of wrong operation incidents – operating on the wrong site and performing the wrong procedure.

Examples of wrong site surgery include a surgeon removing the wrong kidney or amputating the wrong limb. In other cases, a surgeon might perform kidney surgery when the patient really required appendix removal. This might be due to mixing up two different patients where one should receive kidney surgery and the other an appendectomy.

Causes of Operation Errors

A wrong procedure incident may be due to inadequate procedures or processes when preparing for an operation. Surgeons always should mark the site to be operated upon and verify the patient’s identity and the procedure to be performed. Failure to follow proper steps or communication errors (among patients, doctors, nurses and other hospital staff) can lead to errors.

Below are some factors that may contribute to a wrong procedure incident.

  • Failure to check and verify patient information prior to surgery
  • Failure to mark the surgery site clearly
  • Poor care planning
  • Lack of hospital staff
  • Not performing a pre-surgery checklist
  • Medical team competency
  • Time pressures
  • Multiple procedures performed during a single operation
  • Poor organizational culture and training

The above is a varied list, and knowing the precise reason why a mistake occurred in your case can be challenging. A legal professional can help you collect evidence and discover the root cause of a major surgical error like performing the wrong procedure.

Consequences of Operation Mistakes         

The consequences of the operation mistakes mentioned above are serious. Not only does an error like this mean that a patient doesn’t receive the surgery he or she required, but it also means that the patient may be at an increased risk of complications or harm.

For example, if the patient required an appendectomy, the appendix requiring removal would remain if the surgeon performed kidney surgery instead. As a result, the patient is also at risk of complications stemming from the kidney surgery. And if the surgeon removed the kidney, the patient may now only have one kidney.

This is not to mention the anxiety, hassle and burden that needing to undergo another procedure can create. The costs can skyrocket.

Who’s to blame for major surgical errors?

In the event of surgical errors, the patient is the last person who is responsible. Many refer to surgical errors like these as “never-events” because they are completely preventable and should never happen. As such, the medical team is liable if it performs the wrong procedure on a patient and causes harm. The patient therefore may pursue a medical malpractice case against the negligent surgeon or other party.

In Washington State, patients who are the victims of incorrect operations can file a lawsuit within three years, according to the Revised Code of Washington Section 4.16.350. Talk to an attorney about your case and eligibility to file a claim for damages.

Get in Touch with Ron Meyers & Associates

If you’re the victim of a surgical error, the attorneys at Ron Meyers & Associates PLLC, can assist in filing a medical malpractice claim. Call our offices now at (360) 459-5600.