Wrong Site Surgical Errors

Surgical errors have been commonplace since the dawn of medicine, however, in the 21st century age of rapid innovation, such errors are now unacceptable and more likely to result in successful medical malpractice lawsuits than ever before.

What is a Wrong Site Surgical Error?

A wrong-site error is a surgical error that involves surgeons operating on the wrong area of your body. This type of surgical error is severe, as its aftereffects can be both debilitating and deadly.

The Willie King Case

A particularly famous and tragic surgical error case occurred in 1995 with a 52-year-old patient called Willie King. He was meant to have his diseased leg amputated, but his surgeon amputated his other leg instead.

As with many wrong site surgical error cases, there was a series of mistakes that led to this event:

  1. The incorrect leg was listed in several key places – such as the computer system, the operating room schedule, and the board in the operating room
  2. The staff sterilized and prepared the wrong leg for surgery before the surgeon came into the operating room
  3. The operating surgeon did not review the patient’s paperwork that was available to him in the operating room which stipulated which leg needed to be amputated
  4. The surgeon himself did not physically check that he was amputating the correct leg

The case was brought to trial, and Mr. King’s surgeon defended himself by saying that both legs were unhealthy and would need to be amputated anyway. The surgeon was fined $10,000 and had his medical license suspended for six months. Willie King received a $1.2 million settlement.

Legal Matters

If you are a victim of a surgical error then you should consult with a qualified medical malpractice lawyer immediately. As with all aspects of the law, medical malpractice law is complex and differs not only between states but between cases as well.

As a New York resident, your NYC medical malpractice attorney will explain to you that:

  1. It is important that you understand how and why the error occurred
  2. You can explain how the surgeon could have rectified their mistake and/or what they can do presently to rectify the mistake
  3. That certain legal processes will need to be taken which they can also guide you through and assist you with.

Additionally, if you are wanting to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit, then you will need to follow these basic steps:

  1. Contact the medical professionals involved
  2. Contact the appropriate medical licensing board
  3. Find out the statute of limitations
  4. Get a certificate of merit
  5. Consider settling out of court


If you believe that you or a family member are victims of a wrong site surgical error then please contact the medical malpractice lawyers of Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP in NYC today and speak to one of our medical malpractice attorneys.

When you are ready to talk, we are ready to listen. Call (800) 660-2264 for a free, confidential consultation.