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Jury Awards $870K to Man After Surgeon Amputates Wrong Testicle

Urologist removes healthy left testicle while leaving the damaged right one in place.

Published: June 16, 2017

RIGHT FROM LEFT Urologist Spencer Long, MD, removed the wrong testicle during an operation.

Instead of removing the painful, atrophic right testicle, a urologist removed a man's healthy left testicle while leaving the damaged right one in place. That's the long and short of a wrong-site surgery malpractice case that ended after 2½-days on Wednesday with a Huntingdon County, Pa., jury reaching a verdict against urologist Spencer Long, MD, and J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital in Huntingdon, Pa. The jury of 11 women and 1 man awarded Steven Hanes, 54, nearly $900,000 in damages.

Dr. Long apparently didn't mark the surgical site before operating on Mr. Hanes in June 2013 — in large part because the hospital was lax in enforcing surgical site-marking polices and procedures, according to the complaint.

"We thought it was a clear case from the outset," Braden R. Lepisto, Mr. Hanes's lawyer, tells Outpatient Surgery Magazine. "At trial, I focused on establishing Dr. Long's reckless indifference to Mr. Hanes when he removed the testicle without confirming which testicle he was removing."

The jury awarded Mr. Hanes $620,000 in damages for pain and suffering and $250,000 in punitive damages against Dr. Long for "reckless indifference" in failing to properly identify the testicle that was supposed to be removed.

"Mr. Hanes is now forced to either live with the painful testicle or undergo treatment that could result in the loss of the remaining testicle, making him reliant on hormone therapy the rest of his life," says Mr. Lepisto.

Court documents reveal that Dr. Long "did not know whether he was removing the left or right testicle" when he made his incisions. Dr. Long essentially admitted his mixup in his operative note, writing that "at this point, it appeared that the left testicle and cord may actually have been removed instead of the right one."

Mr. Hanes claimed in his suit that he went to Dr. Long because he was experiencing persistent, chronic pain in his right testicle. An ultrasound revealed the testicle had atrophied. Dr. Long recommended an orchiectomy and also planned to perform a left vasectomy.

Efforts to reach Dr. Long, now 77 and reportedly no longer performing surgeries, and the hospital for comment were unsuccessful.

Dan O'Connor


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