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Neurosurgeon Accused Of Operating On Wrong Side Of Patient’s Spine In Surgery

Dr. Denise Crute was a neurosurgeon that performed spinal surgery at OSF St. Anthony Medical Center in Rockford, Illinois on Mary Friday, a resident of Poplar Grove. Friday has since brought a lawsuit in a Winnebago County Court alleging that the surgery was mistakenly conducted on the wrong side of her spine.

Crute testified in the opening phase of trial and denied making this error. She explained that the operating room was staged specifically for operating on the correct side of the spine. Crute says that the entire room would have had to be reconfigured to perform the operation on the opposite side. The claim states that the facility was negligent in hiring and credentialing.

Wrong Side Surgery?

Friday’s diagnosis was a herniated disk on her left side of the spine. Friday believes that Crute instead operated on the right side. Friday says she began having harmful conditions that existed on her right side following the procedure. She claims to have weakness in her muscles and lost feeling in her lower right leg, ankle and foot area. Today she depends on a walker and sometimes a wheelchair for proper mobility. A plaintiff attorney accused Crute of making 17 mistakes involving patients that were recorded by the medical board in Colorado.

Other Incidents

  • Crute allegedly drilled into the wrong side of 55-year-old woman’s head during surgery
  • While a patient was in surgery, Crute allegedly left the operating room for 30 minutes and had her physician assistant continue operating in her absence
  • Another accusation involved the falsification of medical records

Recent Study

A recent Medscape report reviewed data from hospital and surgical facilities that had a state reporting requirement for incidents of wrong-site surgery. The results of their study revealed the scope of the problems with surgical mishaps that occur. Over a 30 month period, there were 298 wrong site surgical incidents. In 83 cases the surgery was completed. The most common mistakes of this nature involved the lower legs. Some of the most common causes included improperly positioned patients, anesthesia-related issues, unverified consents, and missing or incorrect site markings.

Other Wrong Site Surgical Data

Wrong site surgery is clearly an ongoing problem. The verification process needs to be multi-step and must occur before a cut is made. The National Quality Forum (NQF) classifies the problem as a Serious Reportable Event, which are commonly referred to as “never events”. When patients experience these mistakes it creates a major lack of trust in that medical professional. Many lead to claims of medical malpractice with large awards or settlements.


In this case, the defendant physician was a neurosurgeon. These professionals are involved with treatment related to the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Common conditions they encounter include injuries to the brain, stroke and a host of various tumors and infections. They are generally involved in diagnosis, treatment, and surgery for their patients. Many of their patients are involved in motor vehicle collisions and experienced significant trauma. The regulatory approval agency for the profession is the American Board of Neurological Surgery.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
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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