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How common is wrong-site surgery?

Many Camden, New Jersey residents and others who live in the Philly suburbs have probably heard horror stories of surgeons operating on the wrong part of a patient's body. In these situations, the patient still is not better and now likely has another completely unnecessary medical problem, which can in extreme cases include even the loss of a healthy limb.

While many New Jersey residents may be relatively quick to dismiss these stories as very rare events, the statistics paint a slightly different picture. For example, within the confines of an operating room, wrong-site surgery is indeed rare, occurring in less than 1 of over 110,000 procedures within an operating room. In other words, a hospital may only experience a wrong-site surgery once a decade or so.

However, such statistics do not account for the many surgeries which happen in a clinic or other location outside of the hospital. Estimates are that throughout the country, about 50 wrong-site surgeries happen each week. People should remember, though, that a wrong-site surgery can include anything from operating on the wrong person all the way to relatively common error of an orthopedic surgeon operating at the wrong location on a person's spine.

Throughout the country, and between 1990 and 2010, a little fewer than 10,000 people successfully settled medical malpractice cases involving wrong-site operations. The payout for these settlements totaled $1.3 billion, which, one would assume was simply the amount of money it cost the victims of these errors.

While indeed rare events, wrong-site operations do happen to innocent New Jersey patients who were counting on their surgeons to do a good job or, at least, to perform the operation they were supposed to perform. Thankfully, victim of wrong-site surgery do have legal options for getting compensation from the negligent doctors who harmed them.

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