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Philadelphia Attorney for Wrong Surgery Lawsuits

Wrong site surgery attorneys at The Colleran Firm are here to help you if you have suffered from surgical never events such as wrong site, wrong side, wrong body part, wrong procedure, or wrong patient surgery

It is a terrible shock to discover that you or your loved one has been a victim of a wrong site surgery. Most patients don’t consider the possibility of getting the wrong surgery, a surgical procedure on the wrong body part, or getting another patient’s surgery, due to hospital error. The prevalence of these events is generally unknown by the public at large.

These “never events” or events that should never occur, take place in about one out of 112,000 surgeries, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Another source, WebMD, reports that the numbers of reported surgical errors are in the range of 4,044 per year. The highest percentage of these errors are wrong site surgeries.

What You Need to Know About Philadelphia Surgical Never Events

Surgical errors include a range of mistakes made by surgeons or other staff in a medical facility. Some of the more common types of surgeries performed in error are as follows, according to the agency:

  • Wrong side of body
  • Correct side of body, wrong site
  • Wrong procedure
  • Wrong patient

A patient who has been the victim of such a serious Philadelphia surgical error can suffer extreme or life-changing consequences.

Wrong Site Surgery

A wrong limb removed is an example of the most serious of mistakes in wrong-site surgeries. Unfortunately, when correct procedures have been violated, this tragedy can occur, and according to the agency is the most common of all wrong-site surgery errors, coming in at 59 percent of the cases on record.

Site marking is one procedure implemented in the effort to perform a surgery on the correct site. Even site marking is open to human error. When an X-ray is turned in error, the opposite limb or body part appears to be the affected site, and the surgeon proceeds with the surgery, completely unaware that his or her data is absolutely incorrect. The patient, who may have needed the other limb removed, is now facing life with both limbs amputated.

Wrong Patient Surgery

Some patients come out of surgery having had a dangerous or invasive surgical treatment that was meant for another patient entirely. These cases occur in five percent of the wrong site surgery cases. A patient with a similar last name, or same last name, can easily have another patient’s data put into his or her medical records. The patient, who was originally scheduled for a completely different treatment or surgery, now faces dealing with recovering from a surgery that was not needed, and may leave the patient disabled, or with serious complications.

Wrong Procedure Surgery

There are many patients that undergo surgery, only to find out that they have had the wrong procedure. These cases, according to the agency occur in about 14 percent of the “never events” reported. Underlying these very serious errors is a hospital failure. These failures most often lie in the communication system used to share information between various professionals in the facility. Most hospitals now use digital systems to share information, and as with any system, human error can come into play, with tragic results. Wrong site surgeries (WSS) are not minor cases of medical malpractice. It is hard to imagine a more serious error than having the wrong body part operated on, or worse, removed completely.

Preventing Wrong Site Surgery

There are several hospital processes that could reduce the chances of a surgeon making one of these tragic errors. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, 79 percent of wrong site eye surgery and 84 percent of wrong-site orthopedic surgical procedures have resulted in medical malpractice awards – and for good reason. The hospital and all staff must adhere to all protocols before performing surgery. When the process fails, it is the patient who pays the ultimate price for an error that need not have occurred. All hospitals follow a “universal protocol.”

The actions that hospitals should have in place, include:

Preoperative Verification Processes:

  • Verify correct procedure
  • Verify correct patient
  • Verify correct surgery site
  • For spinal surgery, marking of general site, with imaging techniques used to locate and mark exact surgical site.

Site Marking Processes:

  • Mark site before any surgery performed
  • Involve patient in site-marking process
  • Site marked by a licensed practitioner, who is then held accountable for the correct surgery site
  • Mark is made at or very near the site of the surgery to be performed
  • Mark is sufficiently visible after skin prep and draping
  • Adhesive markers are not the only means by which the surgical site is marked.


  • Prior to starting an incision or invasive procedure, conduct a “time-out”
  • Have a designated member of the surgical team start the time-out
  • The time-out is a standard part of any surgery
  • The time-out involves all members of the surgical team, including surgeon, anesthesiologist, circulating nurse, technicians, and other active participants in the surgery
  • All members of the surgical team actively communicate during the time-out
  • The team verifies correct patient, correct site, and procedure
  • If patient is getting more than one surgical procedure, a time-out is performed prior to starting subsequent surgeries
  • If the person performing the procedure changes, another time-out must be performed.

Questions and Answers About Wrong Site Surgery

If you or a loved one has been a victim of wrong site surgery, you have questions and concerns. Here are some answers to common questions regarding this serious form of medical malpractice:

What is wrong site surgery?

Wrong site surgery, or WSS, is a surgery performed on the wrong part of the body. It may be the wrong side, wrong patient, or wrong surgical site.

How common are surgical “never events?”

This events occur at a rate of about 4,400 per year, but may be much more prevalent, as this does not include out-patient clinics where many surgeries are performed, according to the U.S. Department of Health.

What should I do if I have been a victim of wrong site, wrong procedure, or wrong patient surgery?

Your first step is to get in touch with a qualified and experienced medical malpractice lawyer. The facts surrounding how the wrong site surgery occurred must be obtained and preserved as early as possible after the surgery.

How much would a hospital be expected to pay a victim in a WSS case?

The amount paid in a settlement will vary, based upon the long term consequences for the victim of the wrong site surgery. At the Colleran Firm, we offer a free case evaluation to assist you in determining the value of your case, as well as the expected length of time to reach a settlement. Each case is different.

What are the main causes of surgical never events?

There are several errors that can contribute to these dangerous incidents, according to the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare. These include:

  • Booking documents not verified by surgery schedulers
  • Schedulers accepting verbal requests rather than written docs
  • Unapproved abbreviations in use, cross-outs or illegible handwriting
  • Missing forms such as consent, medical history, and surgeon’s booking orders, operating room schedule
  • Paperwork problems found in pre-op and then resolved in a different location
  • Inconsistent site marking protocol
  • Someone other than the surgeon marking the surgery site
  • Site mark made with non-approved surgical site marker
  • Stickers rather than markers used to mark surgery site
  • Surgical team not using time-out process
  • Rushing patient verification process.

Get Help from Philadelphia Wrong Surgery Attorneys From The Colleran Firm

Our legal team at the Colleran Firm has a record in achieving justice and full financial compensation for victims of medical malpractice. We assist clients in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We have recovered millions of dollars in damages in cases of medical negligence.

Our lawyers work together closely, and the majority of the lawyers at our firm are family members, each of whom has had the distinct honor of being listed in Super Lawyers®, as well as having the highest peer review rating from Martindale-Hubbell®, AV Preeminent®.

If you have suffered from injuries due to wrong site surgery, contact the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at the Colleran Firm for a free case evaluation.

The attorneys at The Colleran Firm handle serious injury cases caused by health care provider negligence and medical malpractice in Pennsylvania & New Jersey.

Connect With Us:

The Colleran Firm

2005 Market Street # 1940
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: (215) 972-8000
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