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10. Surgeries on the Wrong Side of the Brain In 2007, surgeons at Rhode Island Hospital operated on the wrong side of patients’ brains three separate times. The last failed operation occurred on November 23, the same year, when a neurologist drilled into the right side of an 86 years old patient’s skull, while scans clearly showed bleeding present on the left side. The nonprofit hospital, which is also a teaching center for Brown University’s med school received a $70,000 fine for the incident, from the Rhode Island Department of Health, and ordered to have an attending physician present during all neurosurgeries. In August of the same year, a patient died several weeks after a surgical team at the same hospital operated on the wrong side of his head. Another time, while tests showed that the patient, Kevin Walsh, a construction worker, was suffering from a clot on the right side of his brain, the operation was first performed on the left side. When the mix-up became apparent, the opening was closed and the surgery was performed on the right side.
9. Left the Surgery Instruments Inside the Patient’s Body Let’s take a break from doctors who can’t tell left from right, and focus on doctors who always lose things; more specifically, in your body. Doctors at the University at Washington medical center successfully removed a tumor from their patient, Donald Church, but forgot a 13-inch retractor in its place. Doctors admitted leaving the device there; they just had no idea how. Church returned to the hospital complaining about chest pain, and the retractor was discovered in the subsequent x-ray. Doctors were eventually able to remove it without messing up even more, and the patient was paid $150,000 for his troubles. However, this cases are so often nowadays that there is even a dedicated, fine structured Wikipedia page for this unfortunate medical errors.
8. Useless Mastectomy A woman from California who underwent a double mastectomy (breasts removal) and later discovered she didn’t have breast cancer at all will be paid $200,000 after winning a medical malpractice lawsuit. Ana Jimenez-Salgado had her breasts surgically removed at a Los Angeles county hospital after outside pathologists said the cells obtained from an August 2007 biopsy were cancerous. When she later underwent reconstructive surgery, the hospital’s pathologists examined the issue and concluded she never had breast cancer. She filed a medical malpractice lawsuit, alleging the hospital was negligent in relying on the interpretation of the outside pathologists. The county acknowledged it failed to review the biopsy specimens, resulting in the unnecessary mastectomy. Now that a huge medical error for a woman to digest. In her lawsuit, Jimenez-Salgado alleged the hospital was negligent in relying on the external pathologists, and that her breast reconstruction was negligently performed. She also claimed the breast reconstruction surgery was negligently performed. The hospital has revised its policies to ensure that in-house pathologists review biopsy specimens obtained from outside facilities.
7. Screwdriver in the Patient’s Spine We all admire MacGuyver… and we hope that when faced with some impossible situation in the future, we’ll be able to put together a wise solution out of random stuff we have lying around. But you know who we probably don’t want doing that kind of on-the-fly improvisation? Yes, it’s the surgeon who’s operating on your spine. In 2001, Arturo Iturralde was supposed to have a pair of titanium rods installed in his back. However, once his back was flopping wide open on the table, the surgeon noticed that the rods were missing. Using quick thinking, he used the next best thing he could find: a screwdriver. After a quick hacksaw job to cut off the handle, he jammed the tool into the patient’s back, presumably with a handful of finishing nails and some copper wire. Unsurprisingly, the result was forcing Arturo to endure several more surgeries. The end result was the doctor and the hospital being on the hook for $6 million. So why does the hospital had to pay because of the clumsy doctor? Because the guy had already had his doctor license suspended in two other states.
6. “An (Even More) Dangerous Method”, by Mother Psychiatrist It is psychiatrist Margaret Bean-Bayog, who treated a student who felt alone. According to her, the patient suffered a lot in childhood, experiencing abuse and by that time being on drugs and alcohol. The anxious student had some sociopathic tendencies. If you see a psychiatrist, the first task is making sure they’re not crazier than you are. One way to tell is if the psychiatrist, for instance, demands that you start calling them “mother“. Treatment that followed led him to believe that his genuine mother is she! The doctor wrote cards that the boy had to read 1000 times a day until he came to believe it. The cards read: “I am your mother, I love you and you love me very much back.” The rest of the treatment course was not exactly what one would suspect, given the young man’s poor mental health: several thousand pages of sadomasochistic fantasies written by the doctor, and an extensive effort to brainwash him. Child’s family sued the doctor, after he committed suicide.
5. Surgeon Amputated the Wrong Leg In a case that grabbed attention of the whole world in 1995, doctors removed the wrong leg from then 52 year old Willie King. A suite of medical errors, including incorrect notations, led to King’s wrongful amputation. Surprisingly, the surgeon who performed the surgery only received a $10,000 fine and the loss of his medical license for six months. Apparently, there were other medical staff on the list, with a more important role, who made this awful error happen. Meanwhile, King sued University Community Hospital and the surgeon involved for a combined $1.5 million.
4. Healthy Lung Removal In the summer of 2005, Laurence Ball of the UK complained of chest pains to his doctor. Ball was referred to NHS Grampian, where he was diagnosed with lung cancer and had his lung removed. Problem was that Ball didn’t have lung cancer, and the removal was an utter mistake. Ball was left a frail man, exhausted after little to no effort. He received no apology or explanation, and finally took the case to court, but not until recently. Though he hopes to settle matters outside of the courtroom, someone has to pay for this mammoth mistake. In a case that grabbed national headlines in 1995, doctors amputated the wrong leg from then 52-year-old Willie King. A host of medical errors, including incorrect notations, led to King’s wrongful amputation. Surprisingly, the surgeon who performed the surgery only received a $100,000 fine and the loss of his medical license for six months. Meanwhile, King sued University Community Hospital and the surgeon involved for a combined $1.2 million. In perhaps the most publicized case of surgical malpractice, a Tampa surgeon mistakenly removed the wrong leg of 52-year-old Willi King during an amputation procedure in 1995. Apparently, a chain of errors led to the mishap, and the surgical team even realized their error halfway into surgery, but by that time it was too late, and the leg had to be removed completely. King eventually received over $1 million in compensation.
3. Newborn Baby with Only One Limb A couple was given $5 million in a Florida court because doctors failed to notice that their baby would be born with no arms and one leg, the Palm Beach Post reports. The couple would have aborted the baby, they testified, if only ultrasounds had correctly spotted its three missing limbs. The money is slated to pay for operations, prostheses, wheelchairs, and attendants. “I have no words for this“, said mother Ana Mejia, overjoyed by the verdict. An OB-GYN and a perinatal specialist plan to appeal, saying Mejia and Rodolfo Santana rejected an amniocentesis (prenatal diagnosis of abnormalities and fetus, in which a small amount of amniotic fluid, is sampled from the amnion or amniotic sac surrounding a developing baby, and then examined for genetic abnormalities), that might have revealed the abnormalities. They even rejected it after a warning that their child could have Down’s Syndrome, which shows they never would have aborted the child, the specialists said. But the couple’s lawyer says the missing limbs are the issue: “There’s not one shred of evidence that they were ever told there was an issue with one of his limbs, let alone three“, he said.
2. Artificial Insemination of the Wrong Woman When young couple Matthew Hayes and Nico Swift checked into an Oregon hospital, they paid thousands in hopes of using Matthew’s sperm to artificially inseminate his fiance. In a colossal doctor-made mix-up, the clinic accidentally used Mr. Hayes’ sperm to inseminate the wrong woman. Making matters worse, the unidentified “wrong” woman requested an anonymous donor, and thus, the law prevented Mr. Hayes from even seeing the resulting (now born) child. Hayes currently has two lawsuits in court and is emotionally devastated by the ordeal: “They put my sperm into a stranger’s vagina“. Some people tend to have trouble having kids. As depressing as that is, we have ways to solve it in the 21st century- mainly by in vitro fertilization. For people who aren’t scientifically inclined, this is when doctors take the egg and sperm, and try to make them make a baby in a lab, as opposed to in the womb. Now this leads to some misunderstandings, when doctors mix up the sperm or the egg. Another time, a woman in Commack, NY was happy to learn that her in-vitro worked, and that she had a new baby. When it came out, it was darker than she was. Before the husband had a chance to freak out, they sued the clinic for screwing everything up. How about that?
1. Cutting Patient’s Penis due to Lost Temper Some of the above cases are only runners up in the world’s most awful medical errors / malpractice. Our gold medalist is Romanian doctor, Naum Ciomu. He separated himself from the pack of doctors when he was performing an operation to correct a patient’s weird, bulgy scrotum (nut sack). Due to the various stresses factors (failing to perform a certain task during surgery), he lost his temper and cut off the patient’s penis with a scalpel, put it on the operating table and furiously hacked it into tiny pieces in front of the nursing staff. Kind of like how you get really mad sometimes and punch a wall… The doctor said he had a temporary loss of judgment, due to some personal problems. He ended up having his license suspended and he was ordered to pay the patient $500,000 while the patient got a new non-functional penis made from arm skin. Another case of this kind was the Mexican doctor Francisco Javier Valentin Ortiz, who has managed to deprive the patient of his sexual object in a simple operation of circumcision.