Are you worried about wrong-site surgery? Maybe you know you have to go in for a procedure, and you’re concerned that the surgeon may operate on the wrong limb or the wrong side of your body. There are cases of doctors amputating the wrong leg or removing the wrong limb.
The results of something like this can be catastrophic, so it may be wise to mark the surgical site yourself. It’s a simple step you can take to ensure that the doctor has one last check before they begin operating. You may be under full anesthesia at this time, but you still get to be involved in the process.
That said, some experts have argued that doctors or surgeons themselves should be the ones to sign the correct site. This removes any issues with patient-based mistakes. After all, you’re not a medical professional, so it may be easier for you to make an error, even though you’re just trying to help. If the surgeon does it, with all of the access they have to the medical information and the prep they’ve done for the surgery, the odds are they will get it right.
Should they have someone else do it?
Some surgeons have decided to have others do this, delegating the responsibility to a different part of the surgical team or a different person within the medical setting. For instance, the prep team may mark the site before the surgeon arrives.
This is good in some ways since an experienced medical professional will be providing a clear indication of where the surgery should be carried out. However, it can also be problematic because it means that someone else could make a mistake and then the surgeon could compound that mistake by believing their mark is correct. Even a surgeon who read the sheet correctly may be confused when the mark is in a different location, and they may then decide to follow those instructions.
So who is at fault?
Wrong-site surgery is a never event. It should never happen and surgeons should do all they can to avoid it. If it does happen, it’s important to know who in the medical system is responsible and what steps you can take to seek the compensation that you deserve.