Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers know all too well that doctors and medical professionals sometimes make mistakes. It is still surprising to hear that “as often as 40 times a week in the United States, patients come out of surgery to learn that their doctor operated on the wrong body part, did the wrong procedure or mixed them up with another patient,” as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times this week.
These mistakes, often referred to as “wrong-site surgeries”, continue to occur in spite of a universal protocol aimed at preventing them which took effect almost ten years ago. The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare issued the protocol, which includes taking simple precautions to make sure the correct patient is receiving the correct medical procedure. The precautions include marking the surgical site prior to the procedure and taking time prior to the first incision to verify the patient and procedure information.
The specific incidences of wrong-site surgeries in Illinois hospitals contributing to Illinois medical malpractice is unknown, because they are not reported by the state health department. Local Illinois malpractice lawsuits filed by Chicago medical malpractice attorneys include allegations of surgeons at two hospitals who operated on the wrong side of a patient’s brain and a situation where reconstructive surgery was performed on the wrong knee in 2008.
While the Joint Commission protocol was successful in lowering the number of “wrong-site surgeries,” preliminary results from the Commission’s recent project indicate that there are still 29 areas that leave room for error, making the risk for wrong-site surgeries more likely. A few examples include:
- Inaccurate or incomplete documentation on the patient
- Distractions in the operating room
- Lack of full participation in the timeout
- Using unapproved pen, which washes off prior to procedure
Many of the local hospitals contacted by the Sun-Times indicated that they do follow the Joint Commission’s protocol to avoid wrong-site surgeries. Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers recommend not only following the recommended protocol but also enacting additional standards as necessary, as Loyola University Medical Center has done.
Additionally, if you or a loved one have been a victim Illinois medical malpractice, it is important that you speak with a Chicago medical malpractice attorney right away. Our team has experience dealing with wrong-site surgeries and other types of Illinois medical malpractice.