When you arrive at the hospital for a procedure, you expect that the doctor will perform the procedure on the appropriate area of your body. Unfortunately, when it comes to medical errors, the most serious of these involve procedures to the wrong patient or body part. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a wrong site, wrong procedure, wrong patient error, or a WSPE is a never event. While these are possible, the medical community acknowledges that they should never happen and when they do, they tend to indicate that there are other problems within the facility. 

These errors may involve surgeons operating on the wrong body part or the wrong patient. The following may provide insight on this phenomenon. 

How common are WSPEs? 

While WSPEs are relatively rare, they are also dangerous and life altering. The truth is that these errors tend to occur in one of 112,000 cases. This means that most hospitals may only see one of these cases per year. However, even one of these errors is too many. In addition, this statistic only includes surgeries, whereas errors of this nature also happen in other settings. 

How can doctors prevent WSPEs? 

Prevention is crucial when it comes to WSPEs. Some early efforts involved signing your site to ensure surgeons knew where to operate. The problem with site marking is that sometimes the doctors cannot tell whether the site that the patient marked indicates where to operate or where not to operate. Stronger communication between medical teams is the best prevention for these errors. Communication issues tend to be the foundation for mistakes.