A British surgeon (urologist) faces professional discipline for allegedly performing a vasectomy on a patient in February 2014 who was supposed to have scar tissue removed. Instead, the surgeon performed a vasectomy on the patient.
The patient evidently was taken to the operating room out of order (a backlog of surgical patients that day resulted in the order of the surgical patients being changed but the surgeon was not advised of the change). The surgeon failed to confirm the surgical procedure to be performed on the patient who was brought to the operating room out of sequence and therefore performed the vasectomy on the man under local anesthetic without his consent.
Despite today being April 1st (April Fools’ Day), this is not an April Fools’ joke!
The surgeon reportedly admitted that he failed to confirm the patient’s identity, he failed to review the patient’s medical chart before wrongfully performing the vasectomy, and he failed to follow surgical checklists that would have prevented the wrong patient being given a vasectomy. The surgeon also admitted, according to reports, that he failed to keep records of his discussions with the patient after the wrongful vasectomy and that he failed to advise the hospital regarding the mistake.
The nurse responsible for the patients being brought to the operating room is also reportedly being disciplined because she failed to check the patient’s identification or look at the patient’s consent form before the procedure, and she failed to advise the surgeon regarding the changes she made in the sequence of the patients being brought to the operating room.
The surgeon reportedly discovered his mistake after reviewing the patient’s medical records shortly after he had performed the wrong procedure. He wanted to reverse the patient’s vasectomy later that day, despite having not performed a vasectomy reversal in five years. A urological consultant who investigated the matter stated, “My opinion would be, given the emotional state the patient was said to be in, I don’t believe the patient was likely to be in a state to give proper consent to the procedure. It wasn’t a good time to have a conversation about reversing it.”
It was not disclosed if the patient ever had his vasectomy reversed, or the patient’s age or whether he intended to have children in the future.
Surgery performed on the wrong patient or at the wrong surgical site should never occur, especially if the surgery is scheduled in advance and is not an emergency procedure. Hospitals in the United States and around the world should have in place protocols and procedures that, if consistently used and meticulously followed, will prevent such surgical mistakes from ever happening. Surgery performed on the wrong patient or at the wrong surgical site is often the result of multiple procedural failures involving multiple medical staff – had any member of the surgical staff performed his or her duties responsibly, then the medical mistake would have been prevented. A scheduled “time out” in the operating room before any surgical procedure is begun, which is tended to insure that the correct patient will receive the correct surgery, is standard operating procedure in hospitals throughout the United States.
If you or a family member were the victim of surgery on the wrong patient or wrong site surgery in the United States, you should promptly find a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your wrong patient surgery claim or wrong site surgery claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice claim, if appropriate.
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