Surgeon Claims He Intended to Operate on Wrong Leg
You decide: Was this a case of wrong-site surgery?
Published: August 20, 2013
When is wrong-site surgery not an error? Apparently when the surgeon believes the mistaken procedure was justified.
That seemingly backward logic was on display last July when a surgeon at Halifax Health Medical Center in Port Orange, Fla., performed a vascular graft on a patient's right leg instead of the left, then completed the scheduled procedure on the intended leg when a nurse anesthetist notified him of the mistake.
According to a published report, the surgeon talked with the patient the night before surgery about the left-leg procedure and marked the correct leg before surgery. However, the case was entered into the surgical schedule as a right-leg procedure.
A day after the incident, the surgeon met with the patient and her daughter to explain what happened. State inspection records show he believed operating on the wrong leg was warranted because the patient's history of vascular disease made future surgery inevitable.
The surgeon never uttered the phrase "wrong-site surgery" during the conversation, explaining to state inspectors that he tried to rationalize his actions as "morally and ethically right." He also admitted to asking the patient to sign a consent form for the operation on her right leg, even though the procedure had already been performed.
Fifteen days passed before the hospital reported the incident to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, according to the published report. A facility spokesman says leadership didn't want to rush through a root-cause analysis of the incident, and filed the report within the allowable time frame.
The spokesman says the surgeon is no longer on staff, the surgical team involved in the case has been suspended and one of the team members no longer works for the hospital.
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