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Woman’s kidney accidentally removed during spine surgery

While shocking, news of wrong-site surgeries may surface often enough to show how this issue continues to be one that plagues the healthcare industry. Many in Seattle might question how a wrong-site surgery can occur, given the assumed intelligence of the practitioners involved, as well as the understanding that patients must first consent to any treatments performed on them. Yet it may typically be due to simple breakdowns in communication (or oversights by a doctor) that such bizarre errors happen. 

A recent case that occurred in Florida serves to illustrate this point perfectly. A woman went in for lumbar fusion surgery to relieve back pain she had been feeling as the result of a car accident. While the surgery was done on her spine, her surgeons opted for an anterior approach (where the spine is accessed through an incision in the abdomen. During the procedure, the surgeon tasked with accessing the surgical site noticed what he believed to be a malignant mass. Without asking for the woman’s consent, he removed it, only to later discover that it was one of her kidneys. 

The location of the kidney in that particular area of the body was abnormal, yet a review of the woman’s MRI prior to the procedure would have shown it was there. The surgeon was also criticized for not obtaining a biopsy prior to removing the kidney. 

The woman in this case states that she feels no ill will towards the surgeon and recognizes that anyone can make a mistake. At the same time, she also saw the need to hold him accountable for the error. Anyone who has suffered through a similar may choose to do the same. Holding a doctor accountable through a lawsuit may be much easier if one has an experienced attorney on their side.