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Surgery done on wrong patient leads to lawsuit

Imagine going to the doctor for a seemingly minor problem of blood in the urine. Your doctor orders a CT scan and reports that there is a large mass in the kidney and that the organ must be removed.

Yet, after the surgery to remove the kidney, your surgeon notifies you that there was no tumor at all, and an error led to the removal of your healthy kidney.

That's the situation one Massachusetts man faced in the summer of 2016, which led to his filing a lawsuit for malpractice in Worcester Superior Court. Additionally, the physician, a urologist from Worcester with admitting privileges at both St. Vincent Hospital and UMass Memorial Medical Center, has been formally reprimanded by the state Board of Registration in Medicine for his egregious error.

The problem arose when the 37-year-old doctor attempted to read the CT scan results of his patient in the UMass Memorial records system. He pulled up instead the results of another man with the same first and last names. The doctor added no additional identifying factors into the system as he should have, such as the patient's birth date, which would have prevented the error.

Subsequently, each access of the patient's records was based on the doctor's initial search results, which were done on the wrong patient.

While it is possible to live a full life with one kidney, there is no guarantee that this man will be one of the lucky ones in that respect. He already was experiencing some troublesome genitourinary symptoms like the blood in the urine that could indicate potential trouble with the kidneys. As a result of the botched and unnecessary surgery, the patient one day might find himself tethered to a dialysis machine for hours at a time.

If you face a similar set of circumstances, you may decide to also take legal action in the Massachusetts civil court system.

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