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Alvin Wolff Jr. & Associates

Information For Wrong Site Surgery Patients

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Wrong Site Surgery


Wrong site surgery is one of the most frightening forms of medical malpractice. Amputating the wrong leg, removing a kidney from the wrong patient or replacing a hip instead of a knee are all horrifying examples of errors that occur at least 40 times a week in the United States. Even more disturbingly, wrong-site surgery is on the rise – reported incidents nearly doubled between 2010 and 2014. A Missouri medical malpractice attorney is a necessity when a wrong site surgery happens in the St. Louis Area.



There are many causes for wrong-site surgery, ranging from simple clerical errors to more complex communication breakdowns:

  • Someone flips over an X-ray, causing the doctor to operate on the wrong side of the patient’s body

  • A patient is operated on based on another patient’s test results

  • The wrong body part is marked for surgery

  • Emergency surgery is required, causing surgeons to rush through or entirely ignore pre-operative verification procedures

  • Nobody is paying attention




Prevention: Joint Commission Policies


The Joint Commission is an independent, non-profit organization that accredits hospitals in the United States. The Joint Commission imposes several requirements on doctors and hospitals that are designed to prevent wrong-site surgery, such as:    

  • Verification of important details before surgery

  • Marking the site of the surgery with a marker

  • Re-verification of details immediately prior to surgery


Your chances of winning a medical malpractice lawsuit are likely to improve if you can prove that the doctor or the hospital ignored any of the foregoing mandatory procedures, because it is hard to argue that there was no negligence when a clear disregard of mandatory regulations is involved.



Serious injury and death are common consequences of wrong-site surgery, and damages awards can be astronomical. In 2010, for example, an Arkansas jury awarded $20 million to a teenager who was left psychotic and brain-damaged after surgeons operated on the wrong side of his brain. Our office has handled the following wrong site surgery cases involving the following parts of the body: brain, neck, back, elbow and knee. Juries do not like these cases and can be generous in compensating our clients' harms and losses.

Compensatory Damages

The purpose of compensatory damages is to compensate you for all of your losses. You can recover for medical bills, lost work time, legal fees, and even intangible damages such as mental anguish, among other losses.


Punitive Damages  


Since punitive damages are designed to punish doctors and hospitals for misconduct, it is possible for punitive damages to exceed compensatory damages. In Missouri, special rules apply that do not apply to compensatory damages, and 50% of any punitive damages award goes to the Missouri state government (you get the other 50%).


Statute of Limitations

The Missouri statute of limitations for medical malpractice is only two years. Since the severity of certain conditions takes years to diagnose, it begins to run on the date that you discovered or should have discovered the full extent of your losses. If you fail to file a lawsuit in two years, your claim will become worthless.

Getting Legal Help


Successfully prosecuting a medical malpractice lawsuit or securing a private settlement is not a job for non-professionals. It is challenging to secure admissible evidence (including expert witness testimony), to comply with the procedural requirements for a personal injury lawsuit and to negotiate with savvy insurance company lawyers.

All lawyers are not created equal. To not only win but to obtain the full compensation you deserve, you need an attorney who is capable´╝îexperienced and dedicated to aggressively and fearlessly fighting for his client’s interests. Call Alvin Wolff today at 314-241-2500 for your free initial consultation.

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