Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Another Case of Doctors Taking Out the Wrong Kidney

Posted by Briggs Bedigian | Aug 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

The kidneys are among the most important organs in the human body. Your kidneys continually filter your blood and remove waste products and excess water. Kidneys are also amazing because people can still function normally with only a partial kidney intact. However, when doctors remove the wrong kidney during surgery, the patient may be left without any healthy kidney function.

Authorities with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have recently announced an investigation into allegations that a surgeon removed the wrong kidney from a patient during surgery. The incident occurred at the St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester. According to a statement from the Massachusetts Department of Health, “we are aware of this serious allegation and are investigating in line with our state and federal authority.

According to Tenet Health, which operates the hospital, “this is a deeply unfortunate situation involving a patient misidentification that took place outside of our hospital and did not involve our employees. Our staff followed proper protocols in preparing for and performing the surgery.” However, Tenet Health did not indicate where the misidentification occurred or how it happened.

The surgical procedure to remove a kidney is called a nephrectomy. A nephrectomy may be complete or partial, depending on how much of the kidney is to be removed. This procedure can be done to remove a diseased kidney, a damaged kidney, a cancerous kidney, or taking out a healthy kidney to be used in a kidney transplant.

It is unclear what protocols were followed prior to surgery, and if anything could have been done just before surgery to prevent this adverse event. The Joint Commission, a nonprofit that accredits hospitals offers guidance for surgeons to reduce the number of medical mistakes. This includes conducting a pre-procedure verification process, marking the procedure site, and taking a “time-out” just before surgery begins to confirm patient identity, correct site, and the procedure to be done.

"Saint Vincent Hospital is committed to providing safe, high-quality care to every patient who enters our doors,” said Caitlin S. Lubelczyk, Marketing Manager with St. Vincent Hospital. “We are saddened that this incident occurred and our leadership continues to assure the individual receives the support and care needed."

Unfortunately, medical errors involving kidney surgeries are not altogether uncommon. In England, a doctor mistakenly took out the healthy kidney of a 70-year-old patient after a medical student voiced concerns that the doctor was taking the wrong kidney. The patient died within weeks of the kidney mix-up operation. A surgeon in California was put on probation for 3 years after removing a patient's healthy kidney instead of the diseased kidney during surgery.

If you or a loved one have been injured as the result of a medical mistake, or you are unsure whether medical negligence may be involved, Gilman & Bedigian team is ready to help. We are fully equipped to handle the complex process of filing a medical malpractice claim. Our staff, including a physician and attorneys with decades of medical malpractice litigation experience, will focus on getting you compensated, so you can focus on healing and moving forward.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm's litigation practice.  Briggs' legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 

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