Open Your Mouth and Say ‘Oops;” Surgeon Operates on Wrong Part of Patient’s Mouth

No one likes going to the dentist, but a patient in Rhode Island now has good reason to fear sitting in the chair.

Officials at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence say an oral surgeon there started operating on the wrong area of a patient’s mouth before noticing the mistake. The incident, which occurred May 11, 2009, is the fifth such medical mix up reported in the last two years at the hospital’s medical group, Lifespan, officials said.

Lifespan is Rhode Island’s first health system and operates five hospitals in the state, including Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Rhode Island Hospital, The Miriam Hospital, Newport Hospital, and Bradley Hospital.

Hospital officials said the hospital team was able to catch the mistake and perform the correct procedure “with good results.” The patient involved in the mix up is listed in good condition and no complications are expected from the surgical snafu, officials said.

Medical malpractice, such as surgery being performed on the wrong body part, is a leading cause of injury and death in the United States. Each year, about 80,000 people die as the result of medical malpractice in hospitals alone. Many more may be victims of mistakes which occur in clinics, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings.

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