In Florida, some types of surgical errors are so egregious that they are widely reported by the media. These types of surgical mistakes include operating on the wrong patient, performing surgery on the wrong site or attempting the wrong surgical procedure. These incidents are so serious that they are referred to as "never incidents" because they should never happen.
Wrong patient, wrong site and wrong procedure mistakes are fortunately quite rare and happen in only 1 out of every 112,000 surgeries that are performed in hospital operating rooms. However, a study by the Department of Veteran Affairs found that almost 50 percent of these types of surgical mistakes happen in settings in other places, such as ambulatory surgery.
There have been multiple efforts to reduce these types of errors, including marking the site of surgeries. One issue that continues to happen even when doctors mark the sites where the surgeries will be performed is that some become confused about whether the marked spot means the spot to operate or the side to avoid. Poor communication has been identified as a key factor in these types of major medical errors. Hospitals use a timeout before the procedures to combat the potential issue of communication problems. While these approaches have helped to reduce the incidence of these major medical mistakes, they continue to occur.
People who are operated on the wrong site or who receive the wrong procedures may suffer long-lasting consequences. Some people have worsened medical conditions as a result of major surgical mistakes. Experienced medical malpractice lawyers may help their clients who have been the victims of major surgical errors to hold the doctors accountable for their actions. They may be able to help their clients recover damages to compensate them for their losses, and they might also recover punitive damages in particularly egregious cases.