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Surgeon may have removed kidney from wrong patient


Oregon residents may have heard about ‘never events” that occur at hospitals on relatively rare occasions. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality defines a never event as a medical error that should never happen and shows that a health care facility has serious underlying safety problems. A couple of examples of never events are wrong site surgery and wrong patient surgery, errors that take place at individual hospitals about once every five to 10 years.

A wrong patient surgery may have recently occurred at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts. Reports came out that surgeons at the hospital performed a kidney removal operation on the wrong patient. The Massachusetts Department of Health responded to media reports about the incident by confirming that they are investigating the allegation.

Researchers believe that wrong patient and wrong site surgeries happen about one time for every 112,000 surgeries. There are many other kinds of surgical errors that are more common, and around 200,000 people die every year due to complications after surgery. To prevent never events and other surgical mistakes from occurring, the Joint Commission advises hospital staff to mark surgical sites and go over patient and surgery information before operating.

An injured patient may file a medical malpractice lawsuit after a surgical mistake, but it must be filed within a statute of limitations window. Because of the time constraint for taking legal action, a patient may want to speak with an attorney as soon as it is suspected that medical malpractice might have occurred. Damages that are sought could include the costs of the additional medical care needed to correct the error.

Source: CNN, “Surgeon accused of removing kidney from wrong patient,” Elizabeth Cohen, Aug. 10, 2016