Sometimes, a medical procedure goes wrong in a way that nobody could anticipate. Most of the time, however, the things that go wrong are totally predictable.
When a surgical event goes bad in a way that is wholly preventable, it’s called a “never” event — meaning it should never, ever have happened. The general term for the main three never events that can happen during surgery is “wrong-site surgery.” Wrong-site surgeries break down further into categories including:
- Wrong-patient surgeries: During these surgeries, the wrong patient is operated on.
- Wrong-level surgeries: These surgeries take place at the correct site but may be too shallow or deep. Essentially, the surgery is performed in the wrong area of the patient’s anatomy within that operative field.
- Wrong-side surgeries: These simply take place on the wrong side. For example, a patient’s right arm might be operated on instead of their left.
None of these errors should ever take place, but the do. Why? Some of the common reasons include:
- Having multiple surgeons involved
- Performing multiple procedures at the same time or during the same visit
- Unusual characteristics of the person’s body, such as a physical deformity or obesity
- Time pressures
As a patient, you should be informed if there were mistakes made during your surgery. You won’t always be told, though. If you sense that something is wrong or know that the operation did not go as planned, try to reach out to your surgeon for more information. They may be able to tell you what happened and what they plan to do to make things right.
In a worst-case scenario, patients who have been harmed may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Our website has more on what you’ll need if you want to file a claim.