While not common, there have been reports of doctors amputating the wrong limb or removing the wrong foot or hand. When this error occurs, it is called a wrong limb amputation. The error may not be common but it is serious, particularly when the limb amputated is a significant one, like a leg.
Wrong limb amputation is apparently most common when there is very little difference in condition between Limb A and Limb B. It is apparently most common among diabetic patients and their feet. In diabetes, the feet, because circulation is so impaired, are prone to developing open sores that can, in turn, develop gangrene.
In these cases, it may have been the doctor’s original idea to remove only one foot at a time. Unfortunately, sometimes the feet look almost the same to the surgeon removing the foot and so, because he or she doesn’t necessarily check with the nurse first, the surgeon removes the wrong foot.
In cases where the problem is that the feet or whatever is being amputated look nearly identical and they’re being amputated for a surface problem, it is almost understandable. However, sometimes doctors amputate the wrong limb when the problem is bone cancer.
Not amputating the correct section of bone when bone cancer is involved is a potentially serious mistake, beyond the wrong limb being gone. When the wrong limb is amputated and the tumor is left, it is allowed to continue to grow and to continue to develop cancer cells.