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Suit: Surgeon Removed Wrong Rib and Then Lied About It

"The cover-up is worse than the crime here," says patient's lawyer.

Published: March 18, 2016

It wasn't the wrong-site surgery — it was the attempt to cover it up. So says the patient's lawyer, who contends that had the surgeon owned up to removing the wrong rib instead of trying to cover it up and lying about why the surgical team had to operate again the next day, there'd likely be no lawsuit.

But that's apparently not what happened. So Deborah Craven, 60, of Milford, Conn., filed a negligence lawsuit against 2 surgeons, the Yale-New Haven Hospital and Yale Medical School. Ms. Craven alleges in her suit that the wrong rib was removed during a procedure last May, and that the surgeon, Ricardo Quarrie, MD, lied about it to justify a second surgery the next day, saying he hadn't removed enough rib the first time. In fact, she says, he'd removed her 7th rib, instead of her 8th, which had a cancerous lesion, even though the 8th had been marked by metallic coils and dye. Anthony Kim, MD, who supervised both surgeries, is also named in the suit.

"Making the patient undergo another surgery the same day without owning up to the real medical reason for the repeat surgery is just plain deceitful," says lawyer Joel T. Faxon of Faxon Law Group in New Haven, Conn. "Absent the lying, my client never would have instituted a lawsuit."

"The cover-up is worse than the crime here," Mr. Faxon tells the New Haven Register. "People make mistakes, we all know that, but you've got to own up to your mistakes."

To make matters worse, says Ms. Craven, although she specifically requested that Dr. Quarrie not be involved in the second surgery, "the defendants unscrupulously acted for their own pecuniary benefit" by letting (Dr. Quarrie) participate and by billing Ms. Craven for his services.

The suit alleges that Ms. Craven complained of pain after the first surgery and that "an X-ray revealed that the metal markers were still in place and that a portion of the 7th rib had been removed rather than the 8th rib as intended." Dr. Quarrie allegedly "falsely informed the plaintiff that the defendants had not removed enough rib during the surgery and, for that reason, she would need to undergo another surgery." Had an X-ray been performed during the surgery, it would have revealed the error, says Mr. Faxon, but none was taken until Ms. Craven complained of pain.

Attempts to reach Drs. Quarrie and Kim and Yale Medical School for comment were unsuccessful. The hospital issued a statement, saying in part, "Even in the best organizations medical errors may occur. When they do, our goal is to acknowledge them, learn from them and ensure that we minimize any chance that they ever occur again. With respect to the case of Ms. Craven, we recognized that an error was made, we informed and apologized to the patient, and we immediately reported it to the Connecticut Department of Public Health."

Jim Burger

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