When a doctor operates on the wrong body part, this mistake is referred to as a “wrong-site surgery.” It is a surgical error that should absolutely never ever be made. This is why it is considered by researchers and medical professionals to be a “never event.”
While patients would like to believe that this type of event never occurs, the sad fact is that studies have shown wrong-site surgeries to be far more common than anyone would ever imagine. They happen across the U.S., including in the Chicago and Illinois area. If you or a loved one had a doctor or care provider operate on the wrong body part, you have a claim for medical malpractice against the doctor and perhaps against the hospital where the surgery took place. An experienced Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., can assist you in making a claim to obtain compensation for your wrong-site surgery.
How Often Do Wrong Site Surgeries Happen?
Despite the “never event,” name, wrong-site surgeries are all too common. Researchers from Johns Hopkins have found that doctors throughout the U.S. may operate on the wrong body site as many as 20 times each week. This means that hundreds of patients each and every year go into a hospital or healthcare facility and discover that they have had a surgical procedure performed on the wrong body part.
The Consequences of Wrong-Site Surgeries
When a doctor or care provider operates on the wrong body part, the consequences can vary depending upon the type of surgery performed and on the doctor’s actions. For example, if a doctor was supposed to remove a diseased right kidney and instead removed the healthy left kidney, this can have a devastating impact on a patient who would be left with no functional kidneys at all. In many cases, a patient who underwent a wrong-site surgery needs an additional corrective surgical procedure to correct the mistake that was made. This additional surgery would be necessary not just to resolve the underlying medical problem that prompted the patient’s surgery in the first place, but also to resolve any new problems created by the doctor’s error. Unfortunately, this means a patient would be subject to the risk and recovery period associated with surgery multiple times. In the most tragic of cases, of course, the consequences of the wrong-site surgery cannot be undone even with additional treatment. If the doctor removed a healthy body part, for example, the doctor cannot just put the body part back in. The patient will have to live for the rest of his or her life with the consequences of the wrong-site surgery, or the patient may die as a result of the mistake that was made.
Taking Legal Action
When you or a loved one suffered injury or harm as a result of a wrong-site surgery, the doctor who caused you to suffer the loss should be responsible for fully compensating you for all of the resulting damage. This means paying for:
- All medical treatment necessary to correct the wrong-site surgery as well as any ongoing medical treatment you may need throughout the remainder of your life.
- Lost wages or income not only if you have missed work or taken sick time but also if the doctor’s mistake affects future earning potential. If you cannot work at all, the healthcare provider will need to pay a lifetime of lost income.
- Pain and suffering and emotional distress caused by the surgery.
- Wrongful death compensation if someone dies as a result of wrong-site surgery. The surviving family members of the victim can receive lost financial support as well as damages for loss of companionship.
To obtain these and other types of compensation for your losses after a wrong-site surgery, you can file a medical malpractice claim that will either be resolved with a payment to you outside of court or that a jury will decide. In typical medical malpractice or medical negligence claims, the injured patient has to show that the doctor was negligent by proving that no reasonable physician would have been so careless or made such mistakes in providing care. However, in a case where a doctor operated on the wrong body part, proving negligence is much easier because of a legal rule called res ipsa loquitor, or “the thing speaks for itself.” In other words, it is so clearly wrongful, unprofessional and careless for a doctor to operate on the wrong body part that the very action is conclusive proof the care provider was negligent. To obtain compensation, therefore, it is likely that you will only need to show the extent of the harm that was caused by the care provider’s error. When you are able to successfully prove your case, the doctor who performed the wrong-site surgery will be forced to compensate you. Not only that, but hospitals and other providers who were negligent or whose lax policies or careless actions contributed to the wrong-site surgery could also potentially be sued for medical malpractice.
Our Lawyers Can Help with Your Wrong-Site Surgery Medical Malpractice Claim
While proving negligence may be easier in wrong-site surgery cases, there are still a lot of technical legal requirements that must be fulfilled. You will also have to negotiate with the medical malpractice insurer or prove your case in court. You will also need to be able to show how badly you were hurt by the doctor’s error. At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., our medical malpractice lawyers have represented clients throughout Chicago and Illinois who have been hurt by many different types of medical negligence. We know how to handle the toughest cases. We can put our legal knowledge to work and strive to secure everything you deserve from a doctor or healthcare provider who operated on the wrong body part. To learn more about how our legal team can help with your claim, call our toll-free number or take a moment to submit our online form. We provide free consultations.
- Johns Hopkins Malpractice Study: Surgical ‘Never Events’ Occur At Least 4,000 Times Per Year, Johns Hopkins Medicine