How to Prevent a Wrong-Site Surgery

While we trust doctors and surgeons to perform their jobs accurately, there are steps patients can to be more active in preventing medical errors. In this post, we’ll be discussing how patients can actively help avoid wrong-site surgery.

Data released by the Patient Safety Authority demonstrates that a near miss or legitimate wrong-site surgery occurs every other day. While this is a staggering amount, wrong-site surgeries are entirely preventable. In several past cases, patients or their family members have prevented these occurrences by knowing the right questions to ask and speaking up. We’re breaking down the steps you should take to prevent a wrong-site surgery from happening to you or a loved one.


Wrong-Site Surgery Case We Represented

We represented an older woman who had her wrong eye operated on. Almost laughably, the doctor tried to justify the medical mistake by telling her daughter that “your right side and left side are different depending on whether the person is facing you or has their back to you”. The eventual lawsuit was settled but only after we had to file suit. The doctor reluctantly agreed to be held responsible for the harm she caused to this innocent victim of medical malpractice.

How you Can Prevent Wrong-Site Surgery and Other Ways to Prepare

  • Be prepared for doctors and nurses to ask repetitive questions about your identity, procedure, and the site of the operation. They are responsible for verifying with individual patients as opposed to solely accepting what someone else has written or instructed vocally.
  • Make sure you have properly identified which physician is responsible for your procedure and care.
  • In addition to your name, you should provide healthcare professionals with another identifier to confirm who you are. This can include your birthdate or other personal information.
  • If you are undergoing surgery, make sure that your doctor and surgeon are all clear on what exactly will be done during the procedure.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up regarding any questions or concerns you might have.
  • If you don’t understand something or something does not seem right, say so and ask for an explanation until you feel comfortable.
  • Ask the doctor or nurse to specifically mark the location that is to be operated on.
  • Make sure to have a trustworthy advocate by your side before the operation to ask questions you might not think of as well as record important information that you might forget.
  • Ensure all healthcare professionals involved in your procedure are aware of your medical history.
  • Take time to educate yourself on the details of the procedure and don’t be afraid to get a second medical opinion.

Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Contact Ferrara & Gable For more information on wrong-site surgeries, including what you can do to prevent them as well as how to respond if you have been affected. Our attorneys have extensive experience representing patients who have experienced medical malpractice and other healthcare-related issues. Schedule a free case evaluation today.