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Doctor not disciplined for wrong-site surgical error

When an individual is subjected to a serious medical error, the patient and his or her family can have a hard time coming to terms with the damage that has been wrought. This is especially true in cases in Hawaii and elsewhere in which a wrong-site surgical error takes place, largely due to the fact that the damage that follows could have easily been avoided. In many cases, medical malpractice action follows, not only to address the serious medical repercussions that can follow a surgical error, but also to gain a result that might help prevent similar errors from occurring in the future.

As an example, take the case of a woman who suffers from Cadasil Syndrome, a condition that leaves her susceptible to stroke. The woman agreed to go through brain surgery on the left side of her brain to reduce her risk of stroke, and she checked into a hospital to have that procedure completed. The surgeon, however, operated on the right side. The woman was left with medical problems that could continue for the duration of her life, such as trouble speaking clearly and the need to use a wheelchair.

The surgeon admitted to the mistake and is no longer employed at that health care company. A medical malpractice suit was filed in the matter, although no details were given concerning the settlement that was reached. However, the state Board of Registration for the Healing Arts conducted an investigation of the incident and determined that no disciplinary action would be taken against the surgeon.

The case is mentioned here to demonstrate the fact that even a blatant and non-disputed wrong-site surgical error does not always merit even a slap on the wrist for the medical professionals responsible. In this case, a medical malpractice suit was filed and a settlement reached. However, the family of the woman who was left with significant negative repercussions from this error is likely shocked that no formal disciplinary action will be taken. The case serves as a cautionary tale for patients in Hawaii and elsewhere of the risks inherent in any serious medical procedure. 

Source: heraldonline.com, "Doctor won't be disciplined over botched operation", Dec. 14, 2014

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