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NYC Doctor Removes Wrong Kidney, Patient Still Expresses "Enormous Faith" In Surgeon

May 10, 2013 04:38 PM EDT
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David L. Reich
David L. Reich is the Interim President of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City where a surgeon (not pictured here) removed the wrong kidney from a patient.
(Photo : Mount Sinai Hospital)

Everyone is allowed a bad day every once in a while – unless that person is a doctor.

A surgeon at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City was relieved from his clinical and administrative duties after removing the wrong kidney from a patient, according to hospital officials.

NBC New York reports the patient was a 76-year-old man on dialysis with two failed kidneys and, despite the event, still has “enormous faith in the doctor” who previously helped him overcome bladder cancer.

Doctors subsequently removed the second failed kidney and the patient is reportedly doing well.

“This event should never have occurred at Mount Sinai,” Spokeswoman Dorie Klissas said. “We apologized to the patient, and we will do all we can to ensure that something like this never happens again.”

The mistake is the not the first of its kind: a surgeon at a Minneapolis hospital removed the wrong kidney from a cancer patient said he was distracted by beeper calls, when he made a mistake on the patients’ chart, according to a state investigation.

In fact, according to a report published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), wrong-site surgery happens frequently enough to pose a “significant risk” for many surgeons during his or her career. The most common type is that of wrong-side surgery, followed by wrong-digit and wrong-vertebral-level surgery, and often results from misinformation or misperception of the patient’s orientation.

The key to preventing wrong-site surgery, according to the report, is multiple independent checks of critical information.

Furthermore, junior members of the operating room must feel comfortable to speak out in the case of a concern.

In the case of spinal surgery, furthermore, the vertebral level must be confirmed radiographically.

Ultimately, according to the report's authors, surgeons must have access to all relevant information and be engaged in the process, whatever it may be, in order to ensure the surgery is conducted properly.

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