There is a lot that could go wrong when you enter a hospital for surgery. Some of these risks are unavoidable, as the human body is complex and can sometimes react in strange ways.
However, most surgical errors are entirely preventable, and some are the sort of thing you would expect an elementary school child to get right.
What are WSPEs?
Wrong-site, wrong-patient and wrong-procedure errors (WSPEs) are the collective name for some of the dumbest mistakes surgeons make. Thankfully they do not happen that often.
One report suggests each hospital could expect to see one WSPE in its operating rooms every five to 10 years. Another study suggests you could double those figures as a similar amount happen outside of the operating room. The report found the different types of WSPEs occurred at the following ratios:
- Wrong side of the body: 59%
- Wrong part of the body: 23%
- Wrong procedure: 14%
- Wrong patient: 5%
Surgeons sometimes need to operate under immense stress, especially where multiple people have been severely injured in an incident, and they need to perform various lifesaving surgeries at once. Yet, that is atypical.
Hospitals schedule most patients’ surgeries months or weeks ahead, so there is plenty of time to prepare and even less of an excuse for getting it wrong. The National Quality Forum – the independent body tasked with improving healthcare quality – considers WSPEs as never events, i.e., they should never, ever happen.
If a surgeon has harmed you or a family member by causing a WSPE to occur, then you have the right to expect considerable compensation. Despite this seeming obvious, you may still have a legal battle on your hands to recover what you’re due. Having help to fight for what you deserve will be crucial.