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Surgical errors performed by experienced surgeon

Surgical errors are a dreaded concept by citizens of Delaware who look to the medical profession for their expertise. People trust a doctor's knowledge and skills to perform surgeries for which he or she has been trained, but things do not always go right. A wrong-site surgery is a rare form of surgical errors, occurring once every five to 10 years at large hospitals, according to a study done in 2006. 

In February of 2012, a federal inmate in another state was taken to a nearby hospital to have his cancerous left kidney removed. The urologist who performed the surgery did not have access to all of the patient's medical records, and the records that he did have were incorrect. The CT scan that showed that the left kidney was the cancerous one was not accessible on the day of the surgery. Relying on his memory, and the patient's word, the doctor performed a wrong-site surgery, removing the healthy right kidney.

According to the medical board, it is the surgeon's sole obligation to review the patient's records, including the diagnostic imagery, before performing surgery. Because the images were taken at a different site, they were not available at the hospital where the surgery was performed. The surgeon could have performed an ultrasound to confirm which kidney was cancerous instead of relying on memory. The mistake put the patient in jeopardy and forced him to have another surgery. The urologist was put on three years medical probation, and the hospital was fined $100,000; the surgeon, who had been practicing for 41 years, has since given up his medical license by retiring.

Surgical errors can be the product of many factors from sleep deprivation to stress to not following protocol. Wrong-site surgeries are extremely rare, but can still occur in any state. In Delaware, a patient who becomes the victim of medical malpractice has the right to file suit.

Source:, "Fullerton doctor, Dr. Charles Coonan Streit, who removed wrong kidney relinquishes license", Courtney Perkes, June 29, 2015

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