Victim of Wrong Patient Surgery? How to Be Made Whole

Despite continuous efforts to prevent wrong surgeries, these situations are still on the rise. The Joint Commission estimates that wrong-site surgery, or a patient receiving a procedure meant for someone else, happens an average of 40 times each week; the number of cases reported to the agency doubled from 2004 to 2010.

Can you imagine preparing for a procedure meant to help you and instead you are faced with agonizing pain and potential life-threatening complications after a surgeon incorrectly performs the procedure? It seems something as simple as operating on the correct body part would be a somewhat simple task yet such is not always the case. Blame is often placed on the medical community in which physicians resist second-guessing and double-checking their patients and files for the correct information.

Instances of Surgical Errors

Malpractice cases involving the surgeon performing the incorrect surgery on a patient can involve a variety of situations:

1. Surgery on the wrong organ. For instance, a surgeon is to perform a procedure to drain fluid from the left lung. Instead, he inserts the needle into the right lung before realizing his mistake. Or, a patient may go in for an appendectomy procedure and undergo a hysterectomy instead.

2. Removal of the wrong organ. A surgeon may take the wrong organ, such as a kidney, out of a patient. If the physician removes a healthy organ and leaves the damaged one inside the patient, the patient is likely to die. These procedures often involve the removal of a gallbladder instead of a kidney, for example.


  1. The wrong surgical procedure. There are a variety of reasons for these mistakes. Sometimes, surgeons perform procedures one right after the other and may find themselves performing the same surgery twice, even if it is not what the second patient needed; fatigue often plays a role in these cases.

    4. Surgery on the wrong part of the body. These procedures can include surgeries on the wrong side of the cranium or on the wrong knee. Common problem areas include: heart, shoulder, breast, spine, ear, eye, ovaries, uterus, prostate, chest, hip, cranium, spine, hand or wrist, foot or ankle.

    5. Surgical amputation of the wrong foot, leg, hand or arm.

    Emotional and Physical Impact of a Wrong Surgery

    Not only are patients severely impacted emotionally as they may never trust a physician or surgeon for years to come, but more importantly, their physical well-being is often negatively impacted as well. For instance, leaving a damaged or cancerous organ or body part inside the body may lead to life-threatening or fatal complications. Removing a healthy limb such as one leg and leaving the leg requiring amputation on a patient can leave him or her without the ability to walk completely.

    Those who are victims of wrong surgery can decide to file medical malpractice lawsuits against the surgeon and the hospital to seek compensation for their damages. While they may not always get an apology from the facility, they are most certainly entitled to be awarded damages for loss of income, pain and suffering, revision surgeries and medical bills.


Free-lancer and caregiver, Teresa Stewart enjoys researching and writing about topics of well-being, and restitution in cases of negligence. Price Benowitz LLC, searchable at internet, is a malpractice firm in Maryland which represents clients who have been injured due to medical negligence. They believe that patients should have a professional level of care, and when that is violated, they help clients work out the best legal courses of action to hold those professionals accountable.

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