Doctors Operate On Wrong Location Three Times In Two Months

Many medical malpractice cases arise from such mistakes as wrong site or wrong patient errors. The medical professional and hospitals have instituted certain procedures in an effort to curtail the instances of medical mistakes all across the country as well as in New Jersey. Surgical errors, however, continue to occur despite measures to reduce the number of mistakes.

The Boston Globe recently carried a story that shows that medical mistakes can happen, even when procedures are followed. Three wrong level spinal surgeries were performed at a Massachusetts hospital within a two month period. Doctors reportedly followed safety procedures, including taking a “time out” to verify the type and location of surgery prior to performing the medical procedure.

In that state, between 2006 and 2008, 11 wrong level spine surgeries statewide were reported to state authorities. In a two month span earlier this year, three such surgical errors occurred at one hospital.

Experts say that wrong level spine injuries are the most common surgical mistakes.

The human body has 33 vertebrae in the spine. Each vertebra is just a bit more than an inch in height. Each vertebra looks similar. Doctors must count the vertebrae during spinal surgery. In each of the three wrong level spine surgeries performed last fall, doctors operated on the vertebra just above or just below the diseased segment of the spine.

Two of the three patients reportedly continued to have back pain after surgery, prompting doctors to review postsurgical X-rays leading to the discovery of the mistakes. The third mistake was discovered during routine postoperative checkups, including use of X-rays.

Any surgical procedure can leave scar tissue. A second surgery to repair a surgical mistake can lead to greater scar tissue, pain and increased expense. Victims of medical errors may be entitled to compensation for their injuries that result from medical error.

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