Although the incident happened in a neighboring state, a surgery gone wrong has attracted the attention of at least one Georgia media outlet located in Atlanta.
The story serves as an important reminder to doctors and patients alike that there simply is no such thing as a routine, textbook surgery, and physicians need to approach all of their procedures with an understanding that their patients are each unique.
In this case, a woman scheduled an operation on her back in order to get some relief from back pain caused by a prior motor vehicle accident. The surgical team was supposed to go through the woman’s stomach to reach her back and then fuse some of her vertebrae together in the hopes that doing so would relieve the pain.
The woman indicated that she was blindsided by what happened next. A different doctor, who was not an orthopedic surgeon, was supposed to make the initial incisions and prepare the body. When doing so, he found what he thought was a cancerous tumor on the woman’s pelvis and removed it.
Unfortunately, it turned out that what the doctor thought was cancer was actually one of the woman’s healthy kidneys. She had a harmless birth defect that meant her kidney settled on her pelvis which, although out of the ordinary, is a known medical condition.
The doctor who made this significant error is facing action against his medical license. He also recently settled a medical malpractice lawsuit.
It is quite easy for even good doctors from time to time to operate on auto-pilot, that is, to assume that things are a certain way without thinking about the alternatives. While this sort of thinking is very human, it can unfortunately lead to significant mistakes. Victims should be able to get compensation for these errors.