Doctors promise to do no harm to their patients when they take the Hippocratic oath.
Unfortunately, some doctors violate this oath when they act recklessly or negligently.
Sometimes the negligence of healthcare providers results in shocking consequences.
Medical malpractice cases can cause innocent patients to suffer from horrific injuries or death.
Some of the most extreme cases of medical malpractice are quite disturbing.
These cases will make you want to double check the background of your doctor or surgeon.
A Surgeon Operated on the Wrong Side of a Patient’s Brain Repeatedly
The first case we will examine happened at Rhode Island Hospital in 2007.
Surgeons operated on the wrong hemisphere of patients’ brains three different times.
During the first incident, a doctor performed neurosurgery on the wrong side of one patient’s head, but the patient survived.
Even after the nurse questioned him, he insisted he knew which side to operate on and still got it wrong.
During the second incident, a different surgeon operated on the wrong side of a patient’s brain.
The patient died later due to unrelated causes.
During the third incident, the chief resident started operating on the wrong side of an 82-year-old patient’s head.
He had never filled out a consent form with the right side of the brain listed.
The nurse failed to stop him.
This patient also survived.
After the third incident of medical malpractice, the state fined the hospital $50,000 and ordered the hospital to take steps to ensure this would not happen again.
The hospital replied and said that they were working with the Rhode Island Department of health to minimize further risks.
This particular hospital had other recorded medical errors.
All surgeons are supposed to follow the “Universal Protocol.”
This is a three-step process in which surgeons are supposed to make sure they are doing the correct operation.
First, they reconsider what surgery they are doing.
Next, they write on the patient’s body with a marker.
Next, they take a brief time out to make sure they are following the correct procedure.
A Surgeon Removed a Patient’s Wrong Leg
In February 1995, a surgeon at University Community Hospital amputated a patient’s wrong leg.
The surgeon was supposed to remove the patient’s right leg due to circulation problems from diabetes.
Instead, the surgeon removed the patient’s left leg.
Another hospital amputated the right leg later.
The hospital settled with the patient for $900,000.
Additionally, the offending surgeon settled with the patient for $250,000.
This extreme case of medical malpractice prompted a federal and state investigation.
The state also placed a temporary ban on all elective surgeries at the hospital.
Lack of Anesthesia During Surgery Leads to Suicide
Being awake during surgery is a fear among many.
Unfortunately, this actually happened to a West Virginia man in 2006.
The patient underwent exploratory surgery for abdominal pain at Raleigh General Hospital.
An anesthesiologist and nurse anesthetist gave the patient drugs to paralyze his muscles from jerking during surgery.
Then they failed to provide him with general anesthesia to render him unconscious.
He endured 16 minutes of excruciating pain before he received the anesthesia.
On top of that, the hospital did not tell them about their failure to anesthetize him, so he doubted whether his memories were real.
After his surgery, the patient could not sleep and had nightmares that people were trying to bury him in his sleep.
The patient committed suicide two weeks after the surgery.
His family alleged in the lawsuit that he had not previously suffered from any mental health challenges.
The man’s family filed a civil suit for wrongful death and settled the case out of court for an unspecified amount.
Surgeon Operated on the Wrong Artery
Comedian Dana Carvey sued a California surgeon who operated on the wrong artery during his double bypass surgery.
He had to undergo a second angioplasty to operate on the blocked artery.
The result of having two operations made him weak to the point where he could only work three days a week.
He also had to turn down work offers.
Carvey eventually settled the $7.5 million dollar lawsuit for an undisclosed amount.
Surgeon Uses a Sawed-Off Screwdriver in Spinal Surgery
In 2006, an orthopedic surgeon used the shaft of a screwdriver in a patient’s spine.
When the surgeon discovered that the surgery kit was missing two titanium rods, the surgeon sawed off the end of a screwdriver and inserted it into the spine.
The screwdriver snapped a few days later, and the 73-year-old patient required three more back surgeries to correct the problem.
The patient died two years later.
The patient’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, and the jury awarded the family $5.6 million.
The jury found that in this case, the hospital acted negligently by giving the surgeon credentials and allowing him in the operating room.
The damages included $2.2 million for medical expenses and $3.4 million for punitive damages.
The jury determined that the hospital was 35% at fault for the damages, and the surgeon was 65% at fault.
The hospital and surgeon split the damages payment.
Surgeon Leaves Surgical Object in a Man’s Chest
In 2008, a surgeon left a 10-inch retractor, which is like a pair of tweezers in a man’s lower abdomen.
The retractor remained in the man’s body until his daughter noticed it sticking out from her father’s rib cage.
The patient asked his surgeon about it, and the surgeon said he needed psychiatric attention.
A CT scan revealed that the patient was telling the truth, and another surgeon removed the surgical object.
It is crucial that surgeons count their instruments to ensure none remain in a patient’s body.
When a surgeon makes a medical error, the patient can suffer immensely.
From losing the wrong leg to the psychological damage of being awake during surgery, negligent doctors can cause a lot of damage.