What Can Happen to Patients When Surgeons Remove the Wrong Body Part?

Surgeons sometimes remove the wrong body parts.Wrong-site surgeries can involve surgeons who remove the wrong body part. A story published by the Los Angeles Times provides a perfect example of how removing the wrong body part can haunt patients for the rest of their lives.

In 2006, a 47-year-old Air Force veteran and married father of four was scheduled at West Los Angeles VA Medical Center to have a testicle removed. The veteran had survived testicular cancer almost two decades prior, and fought off the illness with chemotherapy. However, cancer treatments left one of his testicles with little function. Seventeen years after beating cancer, doctors told the veteran that his testicle could become cancerous again if it was not removed.

Instead of removing the potentially cancerous left testicle, doctors removed the healthy right one. This left the veteran with only his nonfunctional left testicle. As a result, the veteran was deprived of testosterone, which put him at high risk of sexual dysfunction, depression, weight gain, osteoporosis and fatigue.

How Often Do Surgeons Remove the Wrong Body Part?

A study published in the medical journal JAMA Surgery claims that wrong-site surgeries occur 1,300 to 2,700 times per year. These mistakes are extremely difficult to correct. Once surgeons begin cutting in the wrong place, it can difficult to undo the damage.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has some suggestions for reducing these errors. Hospitals may prevent these wrong-site surgery errors by improving communications during handoffs and by using checklists and timeout periods before surgery. Surgical sites should be marked and double-checked.

The Florida medical malpractice attorneys at Shapiro Law Group can hold hospitals accountable for preventable medical mistakes.


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