Surgeon mistakenly takes out wrong kidney


A surgeon at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City recently removed the incorrect kidney from a 76-year-old patient. While some may suggest that these sorts of surgical errors are rare, experts estimate that wrong-site surgeries may occur in the U.S. as often as 40 times each week.

Details are still emerging in the Mt. Sinai case, but it appears as if the patient’s condition may have contributed to the surgeon’s confusion. He suffers from kidney disease and both kidneys were, in fact, affected. The surgeon was supposed to remove the kidney in which the disease had progressed the most, but he instead removed the healthier organ. Immediately after he realized his mistake and removed the correct one.

The incident is currently under investigation and the surgeon in question has been placed on administrative leave. The patient did survive and has said that he forgives his doctor, despite his current reliance on kidney dialysis. According to the patient, this same doctor had successfully treated him for bladder cancer in the past.

Of course, not all those who suffer injury due to a surgical error are lucky enough to survive. Perhaps the worst aspect of these sorts of cases is that the errors are easily preventable: in most instances, simply consulting a checklist or marking the correct surgical site prior to the procedure are all that is needed ensure that the procedure goes as planned. Too often, surgical staff underestimate the amount of effort needed to prevent accidents in even the simplest of procedures.

Source: The Clinical Advisor, “Mt. Sinai surgeon removes wrong kidney,” Ann Latner, June 17, 2013

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