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Wrong Site Surgery

Lawyers for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Syracuse

Important protocols must be followed by health care providers to make sure that surgeries are performed on the correct part of a patient’s body. It may be straightforward to show that surgery was conducted in the wrong place on a patient’s body, but it can still be a challenge to hold a health care provider accountable. Often wrong site surgery is the result of many different people in a medical practice making mistakes. You may need to hold the institution, as well as individual health care providers liable under these circumstances. A skilled Syracuse medical malpractice attorney can help you evaluate your legal options if you believe you have been harmed by surgery on an incorrect part of your body.

Wrong Site Surgery

Wrong site surgery occurs when a procedure is performed on the wrong part of the body. For example, it would be a wrong site surgery if the right kidney needed repair, but instead a repair was performed on the left kidney. It would also be a wrong site surgery if the wrong level of the spine were operated upon. Each hospital or clinic should have in place a protocol to avoid having surgeries that involve the wrong site, the wrong procedure, or the wrong patient. Although a surgeon is likely to bear responsibility for a wrong site surgery, staff members are also required to make sure the whole surgical team has the requisite information.


Wrong site surgeries are considered “never events,” meaning they should never happen. In order to establish medical malpractice, you’ll need to show: (1) breach of the professional duty of care, (2) causation, and (3) damages.

The legal doctrine of res ipsa loquitur may apply in a wrong site surgery cases. This doctrine states that a particular injury couldn’t have happened without negligence. For example, if the big toe on your right foot was amputated, and it was the big toe on your left foot that should have been amputated, the situation may speak for itself: this could only happen because of a mistake by a health care provider.

You may be able to hold a hospital vicariously liable for its employee’s negligence. However, not all surgeons are employees of the hospital where a surgery takes place. Some are independent contractors, and in that case, the hospital can’t be held accountable for the surgeon’s mistakes. However, where a hospital holds itself out as employing a surgeon, the hospital can be liable even though no formal contract establishes the employer-employee relationship.

A hospital can also be held vicariously liable for its staff member’s negligence where the staff member is an employee. For example, if the wrong site surgery is the fault of an employee nurse who failed to follow protocol or verify the correct site, it may be possible to hold the hospital liable. A dedicated medical malpractice attorney can help you identify all potentially liable parties.


Sometimes a wrong site surgery necessitates another surgery at the correct site. Damages that may be available include both economic and noneconomic losses. Economic losses include wage loss, medical costs, and out-of-pocket costs. Noneconomic losses include pain and suffering, disfigurement, scars, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment, and loss of consortium. Sometimes personal characteristics of the plaintiff are factored into the value of the noneconomic losses. For example, if the wrong arm was amputated and the other arm must subsequently be amputated to correct the problem, a plaintiff who used to spend her recreational time painting may find herself unable to paint any longer, and her quality of life may be much altered, affecting her enjoyment of life.

Consult an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney in Syracuse

Wrong site surgery can necessitate additional surgeries, or even result in long term and dramatic changes to one’s life. If you’ve been injured due to wrong site surgery in Syracuse, you can potentially file a lawsuit for compensation. It’s wise to talk to a skillful trial lawyer about whether you have a viable medical malpractice claim. DeFrancisco & Falgiatano represents patients harmed by surgical malpractice in Syracuse, Rochester, and across Upstate New York, including in areas such as Ithaca, Canandaigua, Cooperstown, Auburn, Lyons, Binghamton, Elmira, Herkimer, Utica, Oneida, Wampsville, Oswego, Watertown, and Lowville. Call our firm at 833-200-2000 or contact us via our online form.

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Since the insurance company was unwilling to settle the matter my case ultimately went to trial. At trial Jeff DeFrancisco did an absolutely amazing job by obtaining a very favorable result for me." T.H., Oneida, NY
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