Claiming Compensation for Wrong Site Surgery

Roisin Hulme, Solicitor
Author:
Roisin Hulme
Medical Negligence Solicitor
Date:
28/06/2021

Having surgery can be very worrying, as operations may carry a certain level of risk. That’s why you’d usually be told about recognised complications before having a procedure, and give your consent on the understanding that the surgeon would exercise appropriate skill and care.

So what can you do if the operation is carried out on the wrong body part by mistake?

Wrong site surgery will only be detected after the procedure has started, and can lead to:

      • More surgery being needed on the correct site
      • Possible complications following the initial operation
      • A longer recovery time

This can in turn mean you:

        • Have to spend a long time off work
        • Can’t go back to work at all
        • Need specialist care, equipment or rehabilitation in the future

Wrong site surgery almost always constitutes a breach of the duty of care that you’re owed as a patient, so if it has any of these consequences, you could claim compensation for surgical negligence.

If you have any questions about whether you can claim compensation for wrong site surgery, get in touch with our friendly team of expert Medical Negligence Solicitors for a free claims assessment. We can answer any questions you may have and will let you know how we can help you.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

Examples of Wrong Site Surgery

Typical examples of wrong site surgery include:

      • Operating on the wrong limb or eye
      • Operating on the wrong internal organ
      • Performing surgery on the wrong patient

How Common is Wrong Site Surgery?

Between April 1st 2019 and March 31st 2020, 226 cases of wrong site surgery were reported by the NHS.

These were classed as Never Events - incidents that should never occur - and wrong site surgery accounted for nearly half of the Never Events reported overall during this period.

Provisional data for April 1st 2020 to February 28th 2021 indicates 325 Never Events in total, including 131 cases of wrong site surgery. Notably this is a provisional figure with some investigations ongoing.

Thankfully, these incidences are rare in the context of the total number of operations carried out by the NHS. But it’s clear that they’re continuing to happen every year, and having terrible consequences for those affected.

What’s the Cause of Wrong Site Surgery?

The reasons for surgery being performed in the wrong place can vary from patient to patient, but common causes include:

        • Failing to follow national guidelines and safety protocols
        • Communication errors
        • Human error
        • Carelessness

What Should NHS Trusts Do if Wrong Site Surgery Happens?

Each time a Never Event like this happens, the NHS Trust responsible is expected to carry out a thorough investigation to identify the cause. They should then take action to make sure the mistake isn’t repeated.

But the ongoing volume of wrong site surgery cases suggests that processes aren’t being adapted sufficiently and that some patients are suffering life-changing injuries as a consequence.

If you or a loved one has been affected by wrong site surgery, our Medical Negligence Solicitors can help you.

We’re happy to discuss your situation in a free claims assessment, and let you know if you have a good chance of claiming compensation and getting any specialist care and support you may need.

 

For free legal advice call our Medical Negligence Solicitors

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