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What is a WSPE?

| Oct 1, 2014 | Medical Malpractice |

North Carolina patients may be interested to learn about WSPEs. Referred to as “never events” by the National Quality Forum and “sentinel events” by The Joint Commission, WSPEs are a specific type of surgical error. Incidents that fall under this category are wrong-patient operations, surgeries that a performed on the wrong person and incorrect procedures performed on the correct patient.

A number of programs were instituted in an effort to avoid these errors, which has generally been associated with failures in communication. Some of these programs, such as The Joint Commission’s Universal Protocol, involve physically marking the sites, and they have become colloquially known as “sign your site” initiatives. However, in some cases, these initiatives have been found to increase confusion in some instances. For example, some suggest that there was a miscommunication regarding whether the mark was where the operation should occur or if the mark meant that the site was off-limits to an operation team.

In spite of the salience of such errors and difficulties associated with reducing them, WSPEs happen rarely. One study suggested that the errors only occur in an individual hospital every 5-to-10 years. Furthermore, only one out of every 112,00 0 patients who go through an operation are subjected to a WSPE.

While the incidence of such mistakes is relatively small, some individuals still suffer complications and additional injury due to these events. However, a patient who has suffered damages due to the negligent actions of a physician or healthcare provider may be able to pursue compensation through an action filed in civil court. A successful medical malpractice lawsuit might result in court-ordered awards that cover a patient’s expenses and pain and suffering.

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