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Wrong-site surgery continues to be a major problem in Central Iowa and across the U.S., according to medical malpractice experts. In fact, it is estimated that American surgeons perform between 40 and 60 wrong-site surgeries each week nationwide.

These surgical errors persist despite educational and awareness campaigns designed to reduce the risk. For example, National Time Out Day was launched 15 years ago to remind surgical teams to conduct effective preoperative “time outs,” which are a series of safety checks meant to ensure a surgery is performed on the correct limb or organ. However, statistics show the annual event has done little to lessen the problem.

According to experts, orthopedic surgeries have the highest percentage of wrong-site surgeries each year. Dental surgeries have the second highest percentage, and spinal surgeries have the third. Laterality errors, or mistakes involving the wrong side of the patient’s body, are the most common type of wrong-site surgery. Meanwhile, the three most common factors leading to wrong site surgeries include human factors issues, leadership failures and communication errors. In order to have an effective preoperative time out, experts recommend that surgical staffs assess their operating room for unique wrong-site surgery risks, involve the patient with a preoperative briefing, make sure everyone on the surgical team has a role during the time out, keep a record of time out success rates and instill a strong safety culture in the operating room.

Patients who are harmed by surgical mistakes could be owed compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages and other damages. They might want to meet with an experienced medical malpractice surgery and discuss how to proceed.