Figures recently published have revealed that at least 63 patients have been subjected to ‘wrong-site’ surgeries in Irish hospitals over the last five years. Unfortunately, the figures indicate that the incidences of incorrect procedures have increased three years in a row. In 2015 alone, 16 wrong-site surgeries were performed.
What is a wrong-site surgery? As defined by the World Health Organisation, it means the ‘performance of an operation or surgical procedure on the wrong part of the body’ and as such would include operations carried out on the wrong side of the body, the removal of a wrong organ, etc. One such example is the removal of the wrong kidney of a child in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin in 2008. This arose even though the child’s parents had raised concerns about the side on which the procedure was to be performed. The performance of a wrong-site surgery can have devastating consequences and in some cases can be fatal. In the UK, in 2000 Graham Reeves had the wrong kidney removed, and despite two further surgeries, emergency dialysis and medication, unfortunately Mr. Reeves died five weeks later.
Speaking about the figures, the Chairman of the Irish Patient’s Association, Stephen McMahon stated that the numbers were ‘disappointing’ and noted that ‘a recent research study has shown that one in every eight hospital admissions results in an adverse event, and 70 per cent of these events are avoidable’. While Caitriona Molloy of Patient Focus believes that there is not enough communication between the various hospitals to ensure that all involved learn from the mistakes made. Given that the numbers of ‘wrong-site’ surgeries have increased over the last three years; it is imperative that lessons are learnt from these incidences to ensure that the number of people affected by such avoidable adverse events is reduced.
If you or a family member have been affected by a wrong-site surgery or any of the issues raised, please contact our expert Medical Negligence team who specialise in medical negligence and can offer you expert legal advice:-