Hospital fined after surgeon removes patient's wrong kidney

When a patient seeks medical care from a hospital, he or she assumes that the care they receive will be high quality. Medical professionals and entities have a responsibility to provide medical treatment that meets a standard of care. When this doesn't occur, the patient and/or the patient's family has the right to pursue compensation. However, there are some errors that are so egregious that a state may become involved. That's what happened last week in California.

Our Kentucky readers may be interested in this story out of San Diego involving a 53-year-old man. The man, who has cerebral palsy, had a cancerous tumor discovered on his right kidney during a CT scan in Jan. 2012. After the scan, there was a mix-up in the man's medical records that showed he needed his left kidney removed. That mistake was identified, though, and corrected. Unfortunately, by the time the patient had surgery at Sharp Memorial Hospital to remove the affected kidney, his medical records were wrong again. The left kidney was removed. The hospital has policies in place to prevent instances like this, including having CT scans or X-rays available before surgeries; however in this case, the surgeon couldn't remember his login information to access the images.

Once the mistake was made, the kidney couldn't be reattached. The kidney with the cancer had to be removed and now, the man requires dialysis to survive. A lawsuit has been filed against the hospital, two doctors and the surgeon.

While medical malpractice and hospital negligence lawsuits are usually the end of such cases, the California Department of Public Health has also become involved. Last Thursday, Sharp Memorial was fined $100,000 by the state for the surgical error. Sharp Memorial was one of nine hospitals that were fined by the state because of errors that put patients in "immediate jeopardy of serious injury or death."

Hospital negligence, such as emergency room negligence and surgical errors, is not something a patient must accept. A patient can seek compensation through the civil court system for such claims as medical bills, pain and suffering, disability and other damages.

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