No recovery • no fee


scottsdale • phoenix

se habla español

No recovery no fee


scottdale phoenix

se habla espanol

No recovery no fee


scottsdale • phoenix
get a free case review

Let our experience
work for you.

Free Consultation

Make a difference. Let us tell your story.

Free Consultation

A history of helping people

Free Consultation

What Are Wrong-Site, Wrong-Procedure, And Wrong-Patient Surgeries?

Published on February 3, 2023

While studies show that the most serious forms of surgical mistakes, including wrong site, wrong procedure, and wrong-patient surgeries occur in only about 1 in every 112,000 cases, the statistics offer little consolation to patients who experience the harm and trauma of this most egregious form of medical malpractice.

When a patient undergoes anesthesia and puts themselves completely in the hands of medical staff they expect to be treated with the highest standard of care. Waking up to learn that they’ve suffered the harm of wrong-site surgery is devasting and can have lasting impacts on their quality of life.

If you’ve undergone a medical procedure with disastrous consequences, you may be wondering: What are wrong-site surgeries, wrong-patient surgeries, and wrong procedures, and how do you recover from the damages?

What is a Wrong-Site Surgery?

It seems unimaginable, but sadly, around 1 in every 112,000 surgeries is performed on the wrong body site. For orthopedic surgeries, the instances may be much higher at an estimated 4.5 out of every 10,000 cases. These instances are more frequent in surgical centers and non-hospital facilities such as orthopedic centers operating at high volumes.

Wrong-site surgery is any operative procedure accidentally performed on the wrong body site through an act of medical negligence. Some examples of wrong-site surgeries include:

  • Wrong-side surgeries such as replacing the right hip instead of the left, operating on the wrong knee, putting an artificial joint in the wrong elbow, biopsying the wrong lung, or — in the most catastrophic cases, performing an amputation on the wrong limb.
  • Performing a procedure at the wrong spinal level

Wrong-site surgeries can be devastating. Typically, the patient has to undergo a second surgery for the originally intended procedure. Wrong-site surgery also means additional wounds, increased possibility of infection, scarring, and in some cases, permanent disability and diminished life quality.

The medical community considers wrong-site surgeries “Never Events” meaning they should never occur due to the rigid safety protocols in place to prevent this type of medical malpractice. Unfortunately, these traumatic events do occur and cause lasting damages to victims.

What is Wrong-Procedure Malpractice?

A John Hopkins study estimates that surgeons perform the wrong procedures on patients an average of 20 times per week in the United States. Wrong procedures sometimes happen due to a medical facility’s lack of a formal system to prevent errors or a failure to enact proper safeguarding procedures that are already in place. For instance, two patients scheduled for surgery the same morning may accidentally have their surgical orders switched and the protocols to catch an error of this magnitude fail. Some examples of wrong procedures include:

  • Undergoing an appendectomy when you were scheduled for a gallbladder removal
  • Having knee replacement surgery when you were scheduled for a tendinitis surgery

In the worse cases, by the time the mix-up is discovered, the patient has sustained irreparable damage. 

Wrong Patient Surgeries

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) defines Wrong-patient surgery as any invasive procedure performed on a patient that is not consistent with their informed documented consent form. Shockingly, this grave medical error occasionally occurs, despite multiple layers of safeguard protocols intended to prevent it. Some well-documented, real-life examples include:

  • A mix-up between two patients in the same hospital with a similar name resulting in the surgical heart procedure intended for Jane Morrison performed on Joan Morris who was supposed to be released the same day after undergoing a neurosurgical procedure
  • A patient misidentification in a Massachusetts hospital that resulted in a kidney removal from the wrong patient
  • A kidney transplant was performed on the wrong patient with her healthy kidney removed and replaced with a donated kidney intended for a different patient. Fortunately, the transplanted kidney was compatible with its unintended new owner, but the patient who was supposed to receive the kidney was placed back on the transplant list

What Are the Consequences of Wrong-Site, Wrong-Procedure, and Wrong-Patient Surgeries?

For victims of these most catastrophic forms of medical malpractice, the physical and economic damages are severe and so is the emotional trauma. A Phoenix wrong-site surgical errors attorney can help patients who’ve been harmed in this way get the maximum compensation for their damages, including medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and loss of quality of life damages that they deserve.

Let us tell your story

we care, and we can help. Contact us 480-991-7677 or fill out the form below

The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.