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Doctor error at top New York hospital: wrong kidney removed

Although doctors deserve the utmost respect for the service they provide each day, when a doctor error causes harm, it is tough to ignore, especially when it happens at one of New York’s finest teaching hospitals.

In what some are calling a horrible mistake, a doctor removed the wrong kidney from a 76-year-old patient. The difficulty arose in part because the patient had two bad kidneys. Unfortunately, the doctor removed the wrong one. Surgeons subsequently went back in and removed the man’s other kidney. The patient is living on dialysis for now.

Catastrophic medical errors such as this one, known as “never events” because they should never happen, occur more often than most people may realize. There are about 4,000 instances of never events per year, according to one study. However, there is no excuse for this kind of medical mistake. Doctors have an obligation to provide the due diligence necessary to ensure they render no harm. No patient should go into surgery fearful that their doctor might do the wrong procedure or operate on the wrong body part. This type of medical error could easily set the stage for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The surgeon involved in this case has not been identified; however, he has since been suspended from many of his duties. In the meantime, the hospital is continuing to investigate.

Though the patient involved indicated he still has complete faith in his doctor, it is difficult to imagine what the elderly man must be going through. Most would see losing one vital organ as a traumatic experience. It doesn’t take much to imagine what it must be like to lose two vital organs.

Source: CBS New York, “Wrong Kidney Removed From Patient At Mount Sinai Medical Center,” May 10, 2013

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