15% of people cannot find which is the right side and which is the left
What do the sinking of the Titanic have in common with the news in which operations are performed on the healthy knee instead of the diseased one?
It is very likely that the helmsman of the ocean liner and the operating surgeon will mistake the same problem. They cannot distinguish the right side from the left side.
This is a phenomenon that is not only limited to school-aged children, but also to adults.
Gerald Gormley, a medical specialist at Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland, who has been studying the phenomenon for some time, says that of all orientations in space, high or low, near or far and so on, distinguishing right from left is the trickiest. Therefore, not by chance, it is the source of many medical errors.
Biopsies in the wrong breast, injections in the healthy eye, even limb amputations without any pathology.
Gormley also analyzed the issue to find solutions and 'teach' doctors how not to fall into the trap: Distinguishing right and left in another person is complicated because it requires complex processes, from spatial and visual processing, to memory.
"First of all, you have to orient yourself left and right, and for some it is not immediate or easy: those who do not respond immediately admit that they have used tricks such as thinking about the hand they write with, or about a tattoo they have .
"The next step in figuring out which is someone's right and left is to turn around so that we can see where that person is looking, because when we are facing someone, our left is in front of their right and vice versa. This confuses you."
15% of people have actually admitted to themselves that they cannot distinguish between right and left, 43% use the orientation of the hand they write with to find it.
Women have it harder than men and even they ask for help.
Men and especially those who are left-handed have an even simpler orientation. Perhaps due to a better and innate ability to orientate in space.