How Common Is It for a Doctor to Operate on the Wrong Body Part?

Many people in the Pittsburgh area probably think that a so-called, “wrong site” surgery, is a rare even that only happens to incompetent surgeons. Unfortunately, the chances of even an experienced surgeon operating on the wrong location, or even operating on the wrong patient, are higher than anyone in Pennsylvania might think. Moreover, “wrong site” surgeries also include those cases in which doctors perform the wrong procedure on the right part.

Although such incidents are rare generally, it is quite possible that they are grossly underreported. Some estimates conclude that 1 in 5 surgeons, at some point, operate on the wrong site. Other estimates suggest that 1 in 112,994 surgeries are a “wrong site” surgery. But, while these odds are small, having a doctor operate at the wrong site is still more likely than getting struck by lightning or even winning the lottery.

Nevertheless, there is a consensus that these types of errors are preventable. When doctors exercise proper care, there should be no wrong-site surgeries. For example, hospitals and doctors’ offices are busy places with lots of people, and it is important for doctors to communicate well and double-check the pre-operative plan. If during the course of this check any question about what is being done arises, that question needs to be resolved before going forward.

Wrong-site surgeries are relatively rare, but they are more common than one might think. A Pittsburgh area resident who has been injured because of a wrong-site surgery may want to consider filing a medical malpractice action to get compensation. After all, although wrong-site surgeries may happen, they are preventable.

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