A 2017 study using data from the National Practitioner Data Bank found that approximately 4,000 people each year in Pennsylvania and across the United States suffer from surgical “never events.” These are surgical mistakes that are entirely preventable. One example is a Florida doctor who recently removed a woman’s kidney during a back surgery after he mistakenly believed it was a malignant tumor.
The patient was undergoing an anterior spinal fusion, a surgical operation that can help treat chronic back pain. When the surgeon exposed the patient’s pelvic area as part of preparing for the spinal fusion, he noticed a mass in the pelvic region. Without consulting MRI images that were taken prior to the surgery, he removed the mass. Though the surgeon assumed that is was a gynecological cancerous tumor, it was actually the patient’s kidney. The kidney was known as a pelvic kidney, which is a healthy, normal kidney that is in the pelvic region rather than in the lower rib cage.
Though many people can live a normal, healthy life with one kidney, having one kidney does put more strain on the body and increases the risk of high blood pressure and chronic kidney problems. The patient filed a complaint against the surgeon for removing a kidney during a routine back surgery. The case was settled outside of court. The surgeon is set to face the medical board and may receive fines or have his license removed due to the surgical error.
Surgical errors can result in unnecessary operations, loss of life, costly medical bills and pain and suffering. Doctors have the legal and ethical responsibility to care for their patients to the best of their ability. When this doesn’t occur, the doctor or hospital might be found negligent. In the case of a surgical error, a lawyer may be able to help the patient to recover damages by showwing that the doctor didn’t execute the surgery properly.