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Surgery is probably the most action-packed field in medicine. Each case is different from the others, and each decision and action can make the difference between life and death. There are so many possible errors that can happen during a surgical procedure, and each of these errors has its own set of consequences. One of the most common errors taking place in the surgical world is the so-called “wrong site surgery”. What is wrong site surgery, why does it happen, and why should you be worried about it?

The definition of these cases is actually very simple. Wrong site surgery, also known via its acronym WSS, is defined as performing a surgical procedure at the wrong side or site. It’s possible that the surgery is performed at the wrong location in the body (ex.: operating on the duodenum instead of the stomach) or at the wrong side of the body (ex: operating at the left kidney instead of the right). But in any case, such an error can have a number of unwanted complications.

To better answer the question “what is wrong site surgery”, it’s best to answer the question “why wrong site surgeries happen in the first place” first. There are many reasons why these errors keep happening. Here are just some of the most common ones.

  • Misinterpretation of the case- Either due to the vagueness of instructions or a failure in the doctor’s part to understand them, misinterpretation can happen. When messages get twisted, even the best instructions can go wrong. This is the case with surgery, especially during high-profile cases.
  • Human error- Because of wrong tabulation of patient charts and miscommunication between members of the surgical team, the surgery can go wrong in a hurry.
  • Misplacement of surgical details- Even though this type of error is rare, these do happen. Due to situations such as failure to identify a patient and/or the staff providing information of the wrong patient, surgical procedures can get mixed up, resulting to the doctors performing the wrong procedure.

What are the consequences of such errors? There’s no telling how bad it can be as it mainly depends on the severity of the error or how the wrong surgical procedure affects a pre-existing medical condition. But consequences of wrong site surgery include the following.

  • Slowed recovery- Because of the erroneous surgical procedure, the healing process becomes compromised, if not set back altogether. In fact, depending on the urgency of the situation, the patient would most likely need another surgery to resolve the issue.
  • Complications- Depending on where the wrong surgery was performed, it can have an adverse effect on person’s body. First, there’s the potential for the body part to get unnecessarily damaged. Second, there’s the potential that the surgery can negatively affect the already-ailing body part needing surgery.
  • Emotional damage- One cannot discount the impact of a wrongly-done surgery to a person’s psyche. Not only does it add to the complications of recovery, but it can also completely ruin the confidence of a person in different ways.