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Surgical Error: Botched Appendectomy Results in Miscarriage and Death

The Belfast Telegraph reports that a woman has suffered miscarriage and death as a result of a surgical error. The 32 years old woman, who was 20 weeks pregnant with her fourth child, was admitted to the hospital for an appendectomy. Rather than removing her appendix, the junior surgeon who operated on her removed her right ovary instead.
In less than three weeks she was back in the hospital for abdominal pains. Two days later she miscarried and died on the operating table after finally having her appendix removed.

The surgeon who removed her ovary denies any misconduct. He had limited experience performing appendectomies on pregnant women, and did not ensure he was supervised during the procedure. He did not call for help when the woman started to bleed heavily during that first operation. The more senior surgeon, who was responsible for supervising the surgeon who committed the surgical error, also denies misconduct.

Prevent Becoming a Victim of Surgical Error
Patients undergoing surgery are at their most vulnerable. They are ill or injured, often frightened, and often don’t fully understand what is going wrong inside their bodies. Not to mention that during the surgery itself they are unconscious and exposed. And, despite the best intentions, surgical errors happen. When that happens, the injured patient or his loved ones should contact a medical malpractice attorney.

However, there are things that patients can do to try to prevent becoming victims of surgical error. A CNN report from 2008 provides five key tips surgical patients can follow to try to prevent becoming a victim. These include:

1. Check out your doctor and hospital.

Just as you would read reviews of a restaurant before booking your anniversary reservation, or you would examine client testimonials before hiring an attorney, you should check the qualifications of your doctor before going under the knife. Find out how many times the doctor has done the procedure and how that compares to other doctors. Research the hospital as well.

2. Tell everyone who you are and why you’re having surgery.

It may seem silly, but tell everyone you deal with who you are and what surgery you are having. When hospitals get extremely busy if the staff does not recognize you, it’s easier for them to make a mistake and mix you up with the patient down the hall.

3. Make sure your doctor initials your surgical site before the operation.

This one may also make you feel a little silly, but it’s actually endorsed by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. It’s a brilliant way of making sure the right side of you is operated on.

4. Confirm the surgery site with the surgeon right before the procedure

According to Dr. James Beaty, past president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “You should say, ‘I’m not going back to surgery until I see my doctor and we confirm that this is the right site.'”

5. Train someone to be your advocate

You will likely be scared, tired, and nervous when you undergo surgery. So teach your loved ones who will be there with you these same tips, so they can make sure these procedures are followed. After all, the more people who keep saying telling the staff and surgeons that you are John Smith and you are here to have your left kidney removed, the less likely you are to accidentally wind up with Mike Smith’s right knee replacement instead.

Related Blog Posts:

Surgical Errors are Medical Malpractice

Underreporting of Robotic Surgery Errors?