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Medical Malpractice – Come on Indiana Doctors – You Still Operating on The Wrong Body Parts?

Guy DiMartino
Nov. 4, 2014

Indiana medical malpractice lawyer discusses wrong site surgery.

The news is full on headlines regarding tort reform. We hear statements such as “doctors are leaving practice because of patients and trial lawyers.” When a patient is injured or killed and an Indiana medical malpractice case is filed, the doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers turn the tide and act like the victim. What am I or any other medical malpractice lawyer to say, when a patient or the patient's family member comes in and tells you a story of a surgery on the wrong side of the body, removal of the wrong organ, or surgery on the wrong patient.

Folks, its 2011, there is no excuse for performing surgery on the wrong body part. For years hospitals and surgery centers have instituted policies and protocols to prevent wrong site surgery. The policies and protocols include prepping the correct side of the body, marking the correct side of the body, and having three people check that the correct side of the body is prepped and marked.

There is no excuse for operating on the wrong body part. Let's look at some examples. The Oregon Patient Safety Commission just published its report and documented that Oregon Hospitals reported 10 wrong site, wrong patient or wrong procedure. Bethany Higgins of the Oregon Patient Safety Commission said, “The truth is, the culture of patient safety is not where it needs to be.” These types of mistakes only happen because people are in a hurry and do not pay attention. Hospitals must keep their operating suites busy and the operating room floors are like the runway of a major airport with patients being taxied in and taxied out.

A report in California mentioned some other specifics regarding wrong site surgery. The reported noted that in 2009, that a patient was to be treated for a right sided kidney stone but the doctor did all the work on the left.

Indiana is no better. The latest data notes that in 2009, 17 patients had surgery on the wrong site, surgery was performed on the wrong patient one time, and the wrong surgery was performed two times. Four patients in outpatient surgery centers had surgery on their wrong body part. These types of errors are clearly preventable. Yet, patients who are injured by this negligence and the attorneys who represent these patients are considers the villains instead of the victims.

Here are some examples of medical malpractice for wrong site surgery:

  • Neurosurgeon drills a hole in the wrong side of the head

  • Neurosurgeon performs disc surgery in the neck at the wrong level

  • Orthopedic surgeon operates on the wrong knee

  • Orthopedic surgeon operates on the wrong shoulder

  • An interventional radiologist does a kyphoplasty (injecting cement into a vertebrae after vertebrae collapses) at T12 instead of T11

  • A general surgeon connects the duodenum (a part of the small intestine) to the ileum (another part of small intestine) instead of the jejunum (another part of small intestine).

As a practicing medical malpractice attorney in Indiana, I deal with malpractice issues like these. If you would like more information about how medical malpractice cases work in the state of Indiana, please call our Michigan City medical malpractice lawyer.