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Frequency of wrong-site surgeries

When people undergo surgery in Montana, they trust that their surgeon will operate on the correct body part. However, wrong-site surgeries sometimes occur, and people may wonder how often this happens.

While people may think that a wrong-site surgery occurs because of a drastic mistake, this is usually not the case. Becker's Healthcare says that several small mistakes usually result in a wrong-site surgery. Variations in site marking and distractions in the operating room, as well as verification and booking errors, can cause these incidents, and an inadequate safety culture can also play a role. It is estimated that every week in the U.S., there may be up to 50 occurrences. A wrong-site surgery may be more likely to happen if someone has an operation on their spine, as surgeons may mistakenly work on the wrong level.

Overall, though, wrong-site surgeries are not as common as you may think. According to Patient Safety Network, only 1 out of 112,000 surgeries occurs on the wrong site. This means that a hospital might experience an interval of 5-10 years between wrong-site surgeries. These incidents come in different forms. Operating on the wrong patient accounts for 5 percent of incidents, while 59 percent occur because a procedure is performed on the wrong side of a patient's body. The wrong procedure is undertaken in 14 percent of these incidents, and surgeons operate on the correct side of the body but at the wrong site in 23 percent of occurrences.

There are steps hospitals can take to ensure that a wrong-site surgery does not occur. Going through a checklist before operating can help make sure that everyone on the surgical teams understands the procedure.

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