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What is wrong-site surgery?

Imagine that you need surgery on your right foot. You go to the Washington hospital, get checked in and go through the process of getting to the operating room. You count backwards from 100 and drift to sleep. The next thing you know, you are waking up. You look down to see your left foot is bandaged up and your right foot looks the same as it did earlier. Something went wrong. Your surgeon operated on the wrong foot. This is what Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence define as a wrong-site surgery

Beyond just having a surgical procedure done on the wrong side of the body, this type of error can also occur if the doctor does the wrong procedure or operates on you, thinking you are another patient. Such errors are due to negligence on the part of medical providers and are 100 percent preventable.

The key to preventing errors is to ensure staff and medical care givers are focused, organized and aware at all times when dealing with patients.  Issues with communication often lead the causes of wrong-site surgery. This may include someone writing something incorrectly in a medical chart or using incorrect abbreviations. It can also include marking the surgery site incorrectly. Other causes include missing information on charts, distractions and rushing through pre-surgical procedures.

You can help prevent a wrong-site surgery error happening to you by being alert and aware. You should pay attention to all communications and speak up if you feel an error has been made. You have the right to ask questions, too, to verify information is correct. This is general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. 

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