Prior to surgery, anxiety is normal. In fact, patients often fear the worst. What do you do if the worst happens to you? Every day, patients suffer from medical errors in New Jersey. WSPEs are among the worst. WSPEs are wrong-site, wrong-procedure, wrong-patient errors. The Patient Safety Network refers to these errors as never events.

Never events are shocking medical errors. The idea behind the name is that the errors should never happen. WSPEs are identifiable, measurable and result in serious consequences. In addition, these errors are preventable. When they do occur, it indicates a serious error in judgment or failure in safety protocol.

A wrong-site surgery involves surgeons operating on an incorrect area of the body. This may be on the wrong side, such as the left instead of right leg. Another common example involves surgeons operating on the wrong level of the spine.

Wrong-patient surgeries often occur when two patients have similar names. Surgery is an invasive and life-altering medical procedure. To have the wrong procedure performed can destroy a person’s life. While these types of errors are rare, they can and do happen. Most hospitals only experience these errors once every five to 10 years.

The Universal Protocol provides hospitals with steps and principles to avoid WSPEs. These guidelines apply to ambulatory care, office-based surgery facilities and accredited hospitals. When enforced, the protocol requires a time out before surgery and team building to decrease the risk of wrong-site surgery. With a combination of safety culture, strong teamwork and vigilance, WSPEs should be completely avoidable.

The above information is intended to be used for educational purposes. It is not legal advice.