It is a patient’s worse nightmare to undergo the wrong surgical procedure or to have the procedure completed on the wrong body part. This is a common fear before surgery and while you may hope that it does not happen to you, there are cases. In fact, one in approximately 100,000 surgeries, according to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, involves serious errors. The question that surrounds wrong-site, wrong-procedure or even wrong-patient surgery is how can you or physicians prevent it?

Wrong-site surgeries can involve surgeons operating on the wrong levels of the spine, it can mean that a person had the wrong side of his or her body operated on or it can even involve someone who underwent a procedure meant for a person of a similar name.

As with many types of mistakes, the foundation for surgical errors often breaks down to communication issues. It is crucial that surgeons and physicians have a time out on the beginning of the procedure, to review all aspects and to quickly review anything that is crucial. This should occur before any major or invasive procedure.

While some surgeons may sign the correct sign for the procedure and patient, there is some confusion when this occurs. Different hospitals and different specialties tend to have different ways to sign or mark a patient for surgery and this can lead to more confusion in the operating room. In some cases, surgeons may be confused as to whether the markings mean to operate in that area or to avoid that area.

The above information is for educational purposes only and not to be considered legal advice.