Wrong-site surgeries are alarming medical errors that can have severe repercussions for patients. Understanding the causes behind these incidents helps prevent their occurrence and enhance patient safety.
A variety of factors lead to wrong-site surgeries. When they occur, they can have significant, long-term consequences for affected patients.
Common causes of wrong-site surgeries
A frequent cause of wrong-site surgeries is communication breakdowns among medical staff. Miscommunication between surgeons, nurses and other team members can result in confusion about the correct site for the surgery.
Failing to follow proper preoperative verification processes is another significant contributor. Surgeons and medical teams must confirm the patient’s identity and the surgical site before the operation. Any lapse in this process increases the risk of wrong-site surgeries.
Lax adherence to standardized surgical procedures can also lead to wrong-site surgeries. Following standardized protocols for surgical site identification and verification helps prevent these errors.
Common consequences of wrong-site surgeries
The immediate consequence of wrong-site surgery is physical harm to the patient. Operating on the wrong body part can result in unnecessary pain. It can also cause new injuries and complications. This can create a need for more surgeries to correct the initial error.
Wrong-site surgeries can also have profound emotional and psychological impacts. Experiencing a surgical error can lead to anxiety. It can also cause depression and a loss of trust in the medical system.
Wrong-site surgeries can also tarnish the reputation of health care providers and the medical facility involved. Such incidents erode patient trust. They may, too, lead to legal and financial repercussions for the care providers and institutions responsible.
Per the American College of Surgeons, a study of wrong-site surgeries showed that 23.5% of them cause temporary major harm to patients. Addressing the root causes of these medical errors is the key to preventing them.