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New York City surgeon removes wrong kidney; hospital apologizes

A wrong-site surgery at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City recently made headlines when the wrong kidney of a 76-year-old was removed. In this case, while it is unknown what caused the wrong-site surgery, it turns out wrong-site surgical errors are more common than many might realize.

According to an article in The Clinical Advisor, there may be as many as 40 wrong-site surgeries in the U.S. every week. These errors listed as wrong-site include those where the wrong patient is operated on, the wrong procedure is done, or the surgery is done on the wrong anatomical site.

In this recent New York City hospital case, while it is not known why the surgeon made the mistake, it was reported that both of the 76-year-old's kidneys were diseased. The surgeon was supposed to remove the more diseased one, but accidentally took out the less diseased one. After realizing this mistake, the surgeon removed the second kidney.

The fact that both of the kidneys were diseased could have been the reason behind the mix-up. However, this still does not excuse the error as which kidney to remove should have been clearly understood from the beginning.

In general, there are certain options hospitals can take to reduce the risk of wrong-site surgeries, including using a pre-surgery verification system called the Universal Protocol.

Either way though -- whether the hospital uses such a system or not -- when a surgical error occurs the results can be truly devastating to the patient. In some cases, these wrong-site surgeries can lead to further complications or even death.

If it is believed a surgical error or flawed surgical performance led to an injury, it is best to reach out to an attorney with experience handling medical malpractice. This attorney will be able to look at and prepare a case for court.

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

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