Wrong-patient surgery: Did your surgeon mistake you for someone else?

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

When you think about wrong-site surgery and the potentially catastrophic results, you likely think of your actual surgeon merely getting confused about where to do surgery on your body. A common example is if someone is supposed to have their left leg amputated but the surgeon mistakenly amputates the right leg, instead.

These “right-patient, wrong-location accidents” do happen — but so do incidents where a surgeon ends up doing a medical procedure on the wrong patient entirely. All it takes is a mix-up in your medical records prior to surgery for it to happen. 

How does surgery ever happen to the wrong patient?

When this happens, the doctor may perform the wrong surgery entirely. They may not even realize it, and many patients have no idea that anything is wrong when they’re being wheeled into the operating room. And, of course, when they’re under anesthesia, they have no way to tell the doctor is making an error.

How do these things happen? They shouldn’t, but human error often comes into play. For instance, maybe you have a very common name. You go in for lung surgery. Another patient with the same name is coming in for heart surgery. The doctor looks at the wrong file and carries out a surgery that you did not need — all while failing to give you the treatment that you do need. This type of mistake can be life-altering — or fatal. 

What can you do if you’re the victim of a surgical mistake?

If you have been through something like this, or if you’ve lost a loved one because of a surgical error, you may be able to seek financial compensation. Be sure you know exactly what steps you must take to do so. Medical malpractice is a complex area of the law, so it’s best to start working with an experienced attorney right away.