The Rhode Island Health Department has fined a Rhode Island Hospital $150,000, after finding that a surgical team committed medical malpractice and violated patient safety policies when it operated on the wrong finger of a patient. According to the Health Department, the surgical team failed to properly mark the fingers and failed to follow the rules for “time out.” A time out is a pause before surgery to verify the patient, procedure and operative site. The finger incident was the fifth wrong-site surgery at the hospital since January 2007.
The Health Department reprimanded the hospital, required observation of every surgery for one year, required full adoption of a statewide surgical protocol and required installation of video and audio recording in every operating room. A copy of the article regarding the case can be found here.
As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, I have only handled one case of wrong site surgery. I believe that most of the medical malpractice attorneys in Baltimore have not handled any such cases, as these cases are extremely rare. I can understand one case happening in a hospital over the course of several years, but 5 cases in the same hospital in 2 years. That place should be shut down. There is no defense to operating on the wrong surgical site over and over. It is medical malpractice, plain and simple