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Surgeon removes kidney after mistaking it for cancerous tumor

Georgia residents who are about to undergo surgery may be worried about the possibility of surgical errors. Unfortunately, errors do occur, even those that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality calls “never events” because they should never happen. Among these mistakes are wrong-site, wrong-procedure and wrong-patient errors. One such never event has led to a major lawsuit settlement in Florida.

In April 2016, a 51-year-old woman went to the Wellington Regional Medical Center in Florida to undergo back surgery following an auto accident. The surgeons were to fuse the bones in her lower back, and to do this, they had another surgeon make the proper cuts. As he did so, the surgeon spotted one of the woman’s kidneys, mistook it for a cancerous tumor and removed it without the patient’s consent.

The surgeon had been serving as chairman of surgery at Palm Beach Medical Center since January 2016. Prior to this incident, he had a clean disciplinary record. He now faces a complaint from Florida’s Department of Health.

The patient filed a malpractice claim, and the two primary surgeons agreed to settle for $250,000 apiece. The surgeon who committed the error did not have malpractice insurance. His attorney issued a statement saying that the client did not accept liability by agreeing to the settlement.

The victim of a wrong-site, wrong-procedure or wrong-patient error may want to hire a lawyer if they intend to file a medical malpractice claim. Such claims usually result in large settlements, so it’s important to have a lawyer handling the negotiations. Legal counsel could request an inquiry with the local medical board and hire third-party investigators to gather proof. Medical experts could determine the extent of the injuries so that the claim covers all past and future medical expenses.