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Surgeon mistakes kidney for tumor during back surgery

Illinois readers likely can't imagine being put under anesthesia for back surgery and waking up to find out that one of their kidneys had been mistakenly removed. However, that's exactly what happened to a Floria woman, according to a recently filed administrative complaint.

The complaint, which was filed by the Florida Department of Health, says that a 51-year-old woman was admitted to Wellington Regional Medical Center to undergo an anterior spinal fusion in 2016. However, during the procedure, a general surgeon brought in to make the initial incision encountered what he thought was a cancerous tumor in her pelvis. He removed it, and two other surgeons stepped in to complete the spinal procedure.

Testing later revealed that the mass was actually a pelvic kidney, which is a normal kidney located in an abnormal location. The patient filed a lawsuit claiming that the doctor failed to perform a pre-operative review of MRI images that clearly showed she had a pelvic kidney. The doctor settled the lawsuit, but he did not admit liability for the error. Medical experts say that people can live healthy lives with only one kidney, but they could face long-term health issues, including loss of kidney function and high blood pressure.

Victims of surgical errors may have grounds to take legal action against the doctor who made the mistake. An attorney could review the details of a case and determine if a doctor failed to provide the required standard of care for a patient. If so, the attorney may recommend filing a medical malpractice lawsuit seeking compensation for damages, including current and future medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Source: Newsweek, "Surgeon Mistakenly Removes Woman's Kidney During Routine Back Surgery," Katherine Hignett, Nov. 1, 2018

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