It has been estimated that wrong-site surgery — including wrong patient, wrong procedure, wrong side, or wrong site — may occur as frequently as 40 times per week in the United States.

The latest, highly-publicized wrong-site surgery took place at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, where a surgeon mistakenly removed the wrong kidney from a 76-year old patient. While it is unknown precisely why the error occurred, both of the patient’s kidneys were diseased and this may have led to the confusion. The surgeon was supposed to remove the more diseased kidney, but instead removed the less diseased one. The second kidney was removed once the surgeon realized his mistake. He has since been placed on leave pending an investigation. The patient survived and is living on dialysis.

The hospital publicly apologized to the patient, who, according to Mt. Sinai spokeswoman Dorie Klissas, has forgiven the physician. According to Klissas, “The patient states that the surgeon in question helped him overcome bladder cancer in the past, and despite this error, says he has ‘enormous faith’ in the doctor.”

In February 2012, in response to concerns about wrong-site surgery, the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare developed a tool for health care organizations to help identify, measure, and reduce risks in key processes that can contribute to wrong-site surgery.  The “Targeted Solutions Tool” is available to all Joint Commission-accredited health care organizations.