Hospital Horror Stories: What Are the Consequences of Wrong-Patient Surgeries?

Never events are medical mistakes that can severely reduce the quality of life for patients, or in the worst case scenarios, result in death. While some never events are worse than others, it is always patients who pay the price for these horrific mistakes.

Wrong-patient surgeries are one of the worst possible never events, and often the most inexcusable. But how often do wrong-patient surgeries occur, and what are the consequences for patients?

According to a study published in the Archives of Surgery, there were 25 wrong-patient surgeries in Colorado over a period of 6.5 years. An article published on CNN did a good job describing the terrible consequences of wrong-patient surgeries. One wrong-patient surgery involved the removal of an organ from a healthy person. Surgeons had thought they were operating on a man with cancer. A third of wrong-patient surgeries resulted in serious negative long-term consequences for patients.

Can Wrong-Patient Surgeries Be Prevented?

The Joint Commission, the agency responsible for accrediting hospitals, has developed procedures and protocols that can reduce the risk of wrong-patient surgeries. One of these protocols is known as a “pre-procedure time-out”, which requires all staff operating on patients to double check information.

With safety protocols in place at many hospitals around the country, there are no excuses for wrong-patient surgeries. Patients affected by these errors suffer from depression, poor health and can lose their lives.

Almost one-quarter of wrong-patient and wrong-site surgeries resulted in medical malpractice lawsuits. Patients deserve to hold negligent hospitals and health care providers accountable for these preventable mistakes.


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