Arizona residents may have heard that in July 2016, a surgeon at St. Vincent Hospital in Massachusetts removed a kidney from a patient in an apparent case of mistaken identity. The man who had his kidney taken out shared the same name as the patient who was supposed to have his kidney removed because of a tumor. The surgeon in that case did realize that a mistake was made as soon as it happened.
While the patients did share the same name, the person who had his kidney removed was much younger than the patient who was supposed to undergo that surgery. Before a surgery begins, nurses who bring patients to the operating room are supposed to confirm that the right person is being operated on. However, they don't always have copies of the doctor's notes or scans to review before the procedure begins.
In this case, the plan to remove the kidney was based on the CT results of another patient. There have been indications that the hospital could lose its Medicaid and Medicare funding because of the incident. While this type of mistake is classified as a "never event", it does happen once for every 112,000 procedures, according to some studies . However, it does indicate that there may be serious safety issues at the hospital.
While many surgical errors do not rise to the level of medical malpractice, wrong-site surgery is usually a sign of professional negligence, let alone operating on the wrong person. Patients who have been harmed in such a manner may want to have the assistance of counsel when attempting to obtain an appropriate settlement.