Medical Negligence*

Wrong Site Surgery Negligence Claims*

A medical negligence claim for wrong site surgery arises when a surgeon performs an operation on the wrong part of the body. In the medical world, this is known as a 'never event'. A never event is defined as a serious medical error which was completely preventable and therefore should never happen and is commonly attributed to medical malpractice.

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Health Consequences

When a surgeon performs a surgery on the wrong part of the body there is a wide range of health consequences that goes with it. Any delay in performing the correct procedure can unnecessarily prolong the injury, progress the injury or condition to a stage it should have gotten and also impact on the patient’s life expectancy. Generally, the patient will have to undergo a second procedure to correct the error.

If a patient contracts an injury either physically or psychologicall due to the negligence of a medical practitioner performing surgery on the wrong site they may be eligible for a legal remedy.

Causes of Wrong Site Surgery

The factors that contribute to medical errors resulting in wrong-site surgery have been:

  • Actions or inactions of the surgeon
  • Failing to clearly mark the area for surgery
  • The position of the patient – they may be placed in a way that conceals the site marking for surgery.
  • Inaccurate diagnosis, reports or images
  • Wrong information passed on to other medical professional involved in the surgery
  • Right hand vs left hand – it is suggested that because most people are right-handed and most equipment setups are right-handed people, a left-handed surgeon may be at a higher risk of making a surgical error.
  • Time pressures can also play a part where an emergency surgery must be performed, for example, or the start time is delayed because of a previous surgery taking longer than expected.
  • Medical history is not reviewed
  • Lack of a formal check of the area for surgery
  • Surgical mark added too early and the site mark washes away before the surgery or is removed too early during surgery preparation.
  • Communication breakdowns
  • Patient/family members incorrectly identify the site for surgery
  • Between surgical team
  • Incorrect information is shared with the surgical team
  • Misdiagnosis

Risk of wrong site procedures increases in cases where:

  • There is more than one surgeon present
  • The patient is transferred from one surgeon to another
  • Where multiple procedures are performed during one surgical sitting – especially when these procedures are on different sides of the body
  • The patient physical characteristics are unique, for example, obese patients or patients with physical deformities may cause the surgeon to deviate from surgical norms and in these cases, the risk of wrong site surgery is increased

Surgery Protocols

There is a universal protocol that is generally organised into the following three categories, if any of these aspects are left out of before the surgery commences the risk of wrong site surgery can increase:


In this phase, all relevant documents, studies, tests etc. are studied to ensure consistency with the patient’s expectations and to ensure that the surgical team understands the patient, their history, condition, the surgery and the surgical site.

Marking of the Surgical Site

The surgical site is marked so that the mark is visible to the surgical team after the patient is prepped for surgery. Site marking must also be marked by a physician, never on a non-operative site, marked for multiple incisions (where necessary).

Final Checks

This phase, referred to as ‘Time Out’, occurs just before the surgery happens and includes final verification that it is the correct patient procedure and that the surgery is to happen on the correct part of the patient’s body. Communication happens between all members and procedure is not started until all questions and concerns are raised and answered within the surgical team.

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Our helpful team

Need Help? Just Ask.

For more information and a confidential discussion on your medical negligence claim, call Elaine Hickey, Head Medical Negligence Solicitor, on +353 1 649 9900 and tell her about your medical malpractice case or reach out via email to and she can call you back.

How do I make a claim?

Once you have gathered all the relevant information in relation to your injury it is then time to move forward with your claim. It is important to use a specialist medical negligence solicitor to help you with this.

  1. Speak with a solicitor

    If you feel that you were not provided with appropriate medical treatment whilst under the care of a medical professional which resulted in injury due to the actions or in-actions of a medical professional, then speaking with a medical negligence solicitor following the injury is imperative. Medical negligence is a complex topic in Irish law. Speak to a medical negligence solicitor when bringing a claim forward. This ensures that no essential steps are missed throughout the legal process. Bringing a claim forward without having spoken to a solicitor can delay your claims procedure. A solicitor can help to determine your medical negligence time limit claim.

  2. Obtain medical records

    In order to make a claim, it must be established and proven that the injury sustained was caused by the medical negligence of the doctor or medical staff tasked with your medical care. Therefore, after having spoken with you about your case, your solicitor will then request access to your medical records. At this stage, the solicitor will have your medical records assessed by an independent medical expert. This will help determine whether a surgeon or medical staff who treated you had, in fact, administered substandard medical care and if negligence was the cause of the injury and if your injuries/outcome could have been avoided if the appropriate level of medical care had been adhered to.

  3. Letter of Claim

    If the independent medical expert has concluded that medical negligence has occurred, then your solicitor will draft a Letter of Claim to the medical practitioner who treated you. A Letter of Claim will outline the nature of your case and invites the medical practitioner to settle your case. The next steps involved are heavily dependent on your case and response to your Letter of Claim and will determine whether your case will be brought to court or settled outside of court. Your solicitor will be on hand every step of the way to guide you through this process.

At Tracey Solicitors LLP, our dedicated medical negligence solicitors have years of experience in helping people deal with traumatic medical injury claims. We understand the injuries, both physically and emotionally, that you have suffered and have supported and helped many people in similar situations proceed with medical negligence claims in Ireland over the past 30 years.

For more information and a confidential discussion on your medical injury claim, phone 01 649 9900 or email to tell us about your case, where you can speak with a member of our team straight away.

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Case Settlement

If you are to proceed with a medical negligence claim you may be entitled to claim compensation for the accident and added expenses, you may have incurred. These claims are called damages.

General Damages

General damages are non-financial damages such as pain and suffering and/or physical and emotional injuries following a medical negligence injury.

Special Damages

Special damages are out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the medical negligence injury, for example, loss of earnings (if you are out of work), medical bills, added travel costs as a result of the accident (for example, travel to and from the hospital) and future care costs. Learn more about Special Damages.

What are the Legal Time Limits?

The statute of limitations are the legal time limits on how long you have to make a claim, which can vary depending on the situation. When taking into account how long medical negligence claims take, it is important to remember that medical negligence cases require certain time frames in place within which you can bring a claim. For medical negligence claims it is two years less a day following the date of the incident or two years less a day following the date that a person made the connection that their illness or injuries were a result of medical negligence. Contacting a solicitor to discuss your case will help you in determining how long you have left to make a claim.

Medical Negligence Involving Children

In an unfortunate incident where a child is subject to medical negligence, the process of making a claim differs from that of an adult. A minor may be in a position to bring a claim forward in the first two years following their 18th birthday.

Learn more about Legal Time Limits

About Tracey Solicitors LLP

We draw on more than 35 years of experience in personal injury law to provide you with expert advice and legal services.

We’re here to help you with your claim, and will work with you to ensure you understand every step of your legal journey.

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