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Doctor tried to cover up wrong-site brain surgery

Eleven years after a surgeon operated on the wrong side of a patient’s brain and attempted to cover it up, the hospital where he worked has been ordered to pay $2 million to the patient and his family. Few wrong-site surgical errors could have so profound an effect on a patient’s health as removing healthy parts of a brain, as this surgeon did.

According to Outpatient Surgery, the victim was 15 when he underwent an operation to remove a lesion on his brain. The hospital invited a reporter from the local newspaper to observe the procedure and take photographs, with the consent of the patient’s parents.

The surgeon had removed several parts of the patient’s brain before he realized he was operating on the right side -- not the left side where the lesion was.

After having the reporter hustled out of the OR, the surgeon repositioned the patient and operated on the correct side of his brain. He later told the family that he had started on the incorrect side, but claimed he had caused no damage.

But more than a year later, an MRI revealed the truth. Today, the patient, now an adult, lives in a rehabilitation center.

The family later sued the hospital and was awarded $20 million, a verdict that was later reduced to $11 million. They settled their claim against the surgeon for $1 million. Most recently, their state’s claims commission, which oversees claims against state agencies like the hospital, ordered the facility to pay the family another $2 million.

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