Law Office of Robert A. Miller
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Procedures may prevent wrong-sided anesthetic block

When some Oregon patients undergo surgery, they often receive a peripheral nerve block to prevent excess pain. While surgeons usually mark where the block needs to go, the anesthesiologist is the doctor who actually does the procedure. After prepping the patient and turning them over, there is a risk of blocking the wrong limb.

In one case in North Carolina, a 59-year-old woman who was scheduled to receive a total knee arthroplasty in her right knee was given the anesthetic block on the wrong side. The surgeon initialed the site, which was on the inside of the right knee. After giving the spinal anesthetic, it was found that the mark had transferred so that she had a mark on the right knee and on the wrong knee. While the block itself is not as disastrous as doing the wrong surgery, the procedure can still be considered invasive and can cause complications.

As a result of this case, a procedure was put into place to ensure that the blocks were performed in the correct place. The procedure includes crosschecking the mark with the electronic source, having the anesthesiologist marking the site with their own initials and writing the word "block." This word must be visible at all times while the patient is being moved. There will also be a timeout before the anesthetic is actually inserted into the patient.

If a surgical procedure was performed on the wrong side and adverse consequences resulted, a medical malpractice attorney could be of assistance to a harmed patient in seeking compensation for the additional medical expenses and other losses that have been incurred. While not all mistakes constitute professional negligence, wrong-site surgery is one thing that is referred to as a "never event" by medical practitioners.

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