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Lab Mistakes Cause Doctors to Perform Surgery on Wrong Patient

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Wrong-site surgeries and surgeries performed on the wrong patient are sometimes referred to as “never events,” for a very simple reason: they should never happen.

Unfortunately, these medical mistakes happen more often than many people realize. According to one study, there are over 4,000 never events every single year in the United States. If you or a loved one have been injured from a surgery performed on the wrong person or wrong location, you should speak with a medical malpractice lawyer like Attorney Jonathan C. Reiter who has experience handling these types of cases.

Doctor Mistake Leads to Wrong Patient Surgery

According to reports, a pathologist’s mistake in mixing up tissue samples caused one man to undergo unnecessary surgery for prostate cancer. Reports stated that the man underwent surgery in 2017 because doctors told him he had prostate cancer. However, a pathologist had mixed up the man’s tissue sample with that of a different patient and in reality, the man didn’t have cancer at all.

Due to the mistake, however, he went forward with surgery to have his prostate gland removed. Unfortunately, the surgery caused damage to nerves near the man’s prostate, causing him to become both impotent and incontinent. 

Patient Mistake Caused Delay in Other Surgery

When a lab mistake of this magnitude happens it often has monumental consequences that affect multiple patients lives. For example, this lab’s mistake also resulted in one man’s tissue sample being misinterpreted as healthy, when in fact it should have been communicated as testing positive for cancer. It’s possible for the mistake to have also caused the other patient to never have the needed surgery to remove the cancer since he was likely told he was healthy. The mix-up and mistake made by the pathology lab could have also caused the other patient to experience delayed treatment, which is extremely concerning. This type of delay in treatment could also have given the cancer time to advance or spread, making it more difficult to treat and further harming the patient’s health. 

Ideas for Preventing Never Events in Medicine

Even if just one patient experiences a never event, it is still one too many. Since these types of events are entirely preventable, medical experts are always looking for ways to reduce the number of medical errors involving wrong-site surgery and operations performed on the wrong patient. 

For example, some hospitals have switched to patient identification wristbands that contain more information. Instead of just listing a patient’s name and date of birth, newer wristbands include a patient’s photo as well as a bar code hospital staff can scan for more information about the patient, including medications they’re taking or allergies that might prevent them from being able to receive certain drugs. 

Other hospitals have started using beacons that emit a bright orange light when a sponge or instrument count is about to begin. The beacons start going off as the surgical team prepares to do a count, which is designed to prevent doctors and surgical team members from leaving an instrument or sponge inside a patient during surgery. 

Additional ideas include marking medications in hospitals with better labels, including the use of color-coded labels and barcodes to help hospital staff better identify a drug before giving it to a patient. The hope is that these new protocols will help reduce medication mistakes and dosing errors that can lead to serious patient injuries. 

If you’ve been injured from a wrong-site surgery or a surgery performed on the wrong person, get in touch with a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Get in touch with NYC Medical Malpractice Attorney Jonathan C. Reiter who has experience handling these types of cases at the top law firm in New York City.

NYC Medical Malpractice Attorney Jonathan C. Reiter

(T): 212-736-0979

Sources:

  1. https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/health/2019/04/05/wrong-patient-prostate-cancer-surgery-medical-malpractice-trial-verdic-iowa-clinic-health-care-court/3377004002/ 
  2. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/quality/13-statistics-on-never-events.html 
  3. https://www.hpnonline.com/surgical-critical-care/article/13000153/tooling-up-to-prevent-never-events 

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