Three Cases of Wrong Side Brain Surgery At One Hospital

st-louis-malpractice-lawyerWe place an indescribable amount of trust in our doctors, especially when we undergo surgery.

Doctors go through years and years of training, practice, and must be extremely intelligent in order to do their jobs. It is because of this training and expertise that we view doctors as some of the smartest members of our society. And it is because of these years of training and understanding of the human body that goes above and beyond our own understanding, that we place such an unprecedented amount of trust in our medical professionals.

Even with this extensive training and intelligence, doctors are still very human, and subsequently fallible. Just like the rest of us, doctors can make mistakes. However, in the medical field the stakes are much higher and mistakes can impact patients’ lives dramatically. These mistakes that range anywhere from insignificant minor errors, to much more devastating mistakes that can be life-changing, or even deadly.

Not every error made by a doctor is harmful, and not every error should result in a court case. But doctors absolutely have an obligation to patients to provide a certain level of care. And because the stakes are so high, when a doctor makes a harmful error caused by medical negligence, it is very important for them to be held accountable.

At a hospital in Rhode Island, several patients who underwent brain surgery were the victims of serious medical negligence/incompetence. The necessity for brain surgery can be very scary, and these patients unfortunately lived through some worst case scenarios. During the course of one year, 2007, there were three incidents of brain surgery malpractice at Rhode Island Hospital, a teaching hospital that is one of the state’s most prestigious. All of the cases involved doctors performing surgery on the wrong side of a patient’s brain.

The first incident resulted from a third year resident’s mistake of forgetting to mark which side of the brain was meant to be operated on. The surgery was performed and when the mistake was realized, both the doctor and the nurse in the operating room explained the mistake by saying that they were not trained to use a checklist.

The second case involved another doctor, who had more than 20 years of experience, performing surgery on the wrong side of an 86 year old patient’s brain. The doctor assured the nurse he was working with that he would remember which side of the man’s brain had a blood clot, and therefore he did not need to mark it or fill out the paperwork. Unfortunately he did not remember and the patient died a few weeks later.

The third incident of wrong side surgery happened in spite of the fact that the doctor and nurse both verified which side of the brain needed surgery. Even after this clarification, the chief neurosurgeon performing the surgery proceeded to operate on the wrong side.

Each case involved a different doctor making the same, easily avoidable mistake. The hospital was subsequently fined $50,000.

St. Louis Medical Malpractice Lawyers

Cases like these are terrifying. We want to believe that these errors are uncommon, but they are actually more common than we would like to believe. It is crucial to hold medical practitioners responsible for their mistakes to protect patients.

If you have been harmed by medical malpractice, the lawyers at the Zevan and Davidson Law Firm can assist you. We have been standing up for medical malpractice victims for over 20 years, earning us a reputation for taking on and winning complicated medical malpractice cases. Contact the St. Louis medical malpractice lawyers at Zevan and Davidson to schedule a free consultation by calling (314) 588-7200 or filling out our online contact form.



photo credit: jenschapter

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