| April 5, 2007
All the steps to prevent this wrong-site surgery went awry.
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The amount of money they’re suing for doesn’t seem particularly unreasonable.
As the surgeon, wouldn’t you have noticed that the other testicle looked atrophied, and stopped to find out if you were doing the right thing? Would something like that be visible?
Well, there goes the claim that draconian tort reform will improve how doctors perform.
“The VA surgeon, fifth-year UCLA medical resident John T. Leppert”
Sorry to upset you VA cheerleaders, but a resident operating alone without a board certified urologist directly supervising every step is probably what happened here. My VA experience in the distant past was that of a free-for-all for residents with minimal staff supervision. Would be curious to know if the staff urologist saw the patient in the preop hold area and if he was even present in the OR. Certainly, it appears that one could easily identify an atrophied testicle in the OR…
This is the second time I remember Kevin MD finding wrong site surgery in my field, urology.
The last time was on a kidney:http://www.njurology.com/RoboticSurgeryBlog/2006/03/removing_the_wrong_kidney.php
I read some of these comments and without taking sides, here are some facts:The cancerous testicle should have been removed when he first has cancer. I am sure the physicians advised him of this many years ago.
As for all the risks he will be exposed to, they are inaccurate. The main problem with removing the incorrect testicle has to do with infertility. He will not be able to father his own children. He wanted a vasectomy, so this should not be as big of a deal as it otherwise would be.The other side effects can be prevented with testosterone replacement.
Several of my testicular cancer patients are on testosterone for supplementation since their remaining testicle isn’t producing enough anyways.
As for what amount is appropriate for compensating this poor gentleman, I guess that depends on how you look at it.
The last point I had a problem with is the patient saying he did not read the consent. I do not have my patients read the entire consent, but I do read the important points to them. They can read it if they want to.
This goes to show how badly we need tort reform in the US. I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends in another jackpot lottery at the expense of this doctor and his family.
“The amount of money they’re suing for doesn’t seem particularly unreasonable.”
You don’t know what they are suing for, nor is clear that there are actual damages. The article mentions a number plus “unspecified damages”. And the patient IS RESPONSIBLE for reading what is on the consent form they sign; no exceptions. Our patients are asked so many multiple times what they are having done and on which side that they probably have no confidence that we know the answer.
Obviously a mistake was made, but the harm is unclear. I think this gentleman should have a thorough prostatic workup. Perhaps the good doctor inadvertantly saved his life.
Your wrong about there being no exceptions to the contract that was signed. The story says they talked about the correct testicle beforehand. The doctor had the man sign it without his glasses and told him it was what they had agreed to earlier…turns out it wasn’t. If you sign a contract under false pretenses, can’t read the paper, are drunk, or mentally unfit to sign, a contract will most likely be nullified by a judge.
I can’t say that this will happen in this case, but THERE MOST DEFINITELY ARE exceptions to contracts. They are thrown out all the time in court.
“The consent form, prepared the day of surgery, stated that the right testicle was to be removed and a left vasectomy performed, when it should have said the opposite. The records do not say who prepared the form.”
Damn right he’s mad. Problem is instead of being mad with himself, he’s mad with the world.
All the checks in the world that the folks at the hospital might take to prevent wrong site surgery cannot overcome bad data on the front end. If the patient agrees to the wrong site (and as a lay person could have/should have reasonably know it was the wrong site), and somebody signs his scrotum for the operation, then it doesn’t matter how many subsequent checks there are. All further observers will check his sack, compar it with the consent and conclude all is OK.
This reminds me of a stand up bit –Wrong Side Surgery
Gee, and to think my aunt had both breasts removed when a mastectomy was needed for breast cancer just so she could sleep at night.
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