Wrong patient surgery or wrong site surgery doesn’t just occur (rarely) in the United States. A neurosurgeon in Kenya recently operated on the brain of the wrong patient and the error was not discovered until more than two hours into the delicate operation, when the neurosurgeon was unable to find the blood clot that was the reason for the surgery.
The circumstances that allowed the brain surgery to proceed on the wrong patient began when two men arrived at the Kenyan hospital unconscious. One of the men had suffered a traumatic closed head injury resulting in brain swelling that should have been treated with medication and other noninvasive treatment, but surgery was not necessary. The other man was diagnosed by CT scan with a blood clot on his brain that required surgery to remove the blood clot.
Both men were dressed in hospital gowns. Their only identification were the name tags placed on their hospital gowns. Because they were unconscious, they could not be asked their names. There was no other identification placed on their clothing or their bodies.
When the two men were wheeled into the Kenyan hospital general surgery ward where trauma patients without fractures are treated, somehow their name tags had been mixed up and the wrong name tags were placed on them. The hospital’s pre-surgery procedures contributed to the disaster that was about to happen: surgeons do not have contact with patients before the patients are wheeled into the operating room. The surgeons have only the patient chart to plan and complete the surgical procedure. Because the patient is unconscious, the surgeon cannot confirm the patient’s identity.
In this particular case, the neurosurgeon thought he was operating on a patient who had a blood clot on his brain that had to be surgically removed, as confirmed by the CT scan of his brain placed in his medical chart. The neurosurgeon proceeded to open the man’s skull and to enter the man’s brain to locate and remove the blood clot. The neurosurgeon operated for more than two hours before he was unable to locate the blood clot in the patient’s swollen brain. The operating neurosurgeon then consulted with the senior neurosurgeon who reportedly told the operating neurosurgeon to stop the surgery, clean up the area of the surgery, and to close the man’s head.
Fortunately for both patients, the condition of the man with the blood clot on his brain has reportedly improved without surgery and may not require surgery. Both men are reported to be in good condition.
The neurosurgeon, the anesthesiologist, the ward nurse, and the operating room nurse have reportedly been suspended.
If you or a family member had unnecessary surgery, surgery at the wrong site, surgery on the wrong side, surgery on the wrong body part, or suffered an unexpected medical outcome following surgery that may be the result of medical negligence, you should promptly seek the advice of a local medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state to learn about your rights and responsibilities and whether you may file a claim for compensation for the injuries and harms caused by the surgical malpractice.
Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may investigate your surgical malpractice claim for you and file a surgical medical malpractice case on your behalf, if appropriate.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.