Wrong-site, wrong-procedure, wrong-patient errors:
When it comes to medical malpractice, any type of error can be devastating. However, the ones that have the most profound effects typically fall under the category of a never event. This designation means the error is one that should never happen. It is 100% preventable. Under the category of never events are incidents called WSPEs, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explains are wrong site, wrong procedure and wrong patient surgical errors.
Because WSPEs are never events, when one occurs, it indicates a serious safety issue at the facility. This requires investigation to ensure the event never happens again and to get to the heart of why it happened in the first place.
Facts about WSPEs
The most common type of WSPEs is an operation or procedure It might be the right site, such as the kidney, but it is not the correct side. As you can imagine, removing the right kidney when the left one was the bad one would produce serious consequences.
Even more concerning, the majority of WSPEs do not even happen in the operating room. They are more common in other outpatient facilities and areas of a facility that also do procedures.
There are many procedures and policies in place to help prevent WSPEs form occurring. The most common are marking the operation site, using safety checklists and taking surgical timeouts. A timeout is a pause prior to an operation when everyone in the operating room reviews the procedure and the patient.
Overall, clear communication is the best way to stop WSPEs. However, if there is not a strong policy about communication with consistent rules, then this, too, can fail to end these never events.
WSPEs are terrible and should never happen to anyone. The only way to stop them is for facilities to take a stronger stance against rushing through procedures or ignoring policies and ensure there is consistency across the board.