News / 

Doctors Perform Surgery on the Wrong Body Part About 40 Times a Week

Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Well, this makes us never want to go under the knife for any reason whatsoever. Surgeon and author Marty Makary revealed in the Wall Street Journalthat "U.S. surgeons operate on the wrong body part as often as 40 times a week."Though the horrifying stat can yield nervous jokes about awaking to find a leg instead of an arm missing, Makary uses it to prove his point that there is an culture of error among doctors. "As doctors, we swear to do no harm," he writes. "But on the job we soon absorb another unspoken rule: to overlook the mistakes of our colleagues." He even admits to having almost operated incorrectly himself: Imagine that a surgeon is about to make an incision to remove fluid from a patient's right lung. Suddenly, a nurse breaks the silence. "Wait. Are we doing the right or the left chest? Because it says here left, but that looks like the right side." The surgery was, indeed, supposed to be on the left lung, but an intern had prepped the wrong side. I was that doctor, and that nurse saved us all from making a terrible error. But surgery is just one example of how much can go wrong: about a quarter of all people hospitalized will be further harmed by a medical error. Image by Franck Boston via ShutterstockRelated StoriesFive Best Monday ColumnsChick-Fil-A Plays Chicken with Its Gay Rights StanceEnormous Feelings About Tiny ApartmentsSAT Reading Scores Are the Lowest They've Been in 40 YearsOne Horrible Call May End the NFL Referee Lockout Read More ...

Related links


    Catch up on the top news and features from, sent weekly.
    By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    KSL Weather Forecast