COMMENTARY BY SAM SPITAL, SAN DIEGO PERSONAL INJURY AND CALIFORNIA PROFESSIONAL LICENSE ATTORNEY:
“Reported December 20, 2012 online by NBC TV Channel 39 was the action taken by the California Department of Public Health that fined Kaiser Foundation Hospital for removing the wrong kidney of an 85 year old male patient. Multiple physicians over a four (4) year period of time found and documented a cancerous tumor on his left kidney, but the surgery was performed on the wrong kidney.
As is standard procedure, the surgeon used a marking pen to identify the location and/or object of the surgery. However, he incorrectly marked the right kidney and no other medical or nursing staff noted the error. This could also have been avoided had the doctor viewed the previous medical records and/or the series of past CT images of the left kidney, the latter easily available and as a matter of course required to be viewed on a screen in the operating room. This is despite elementary medical principles and practices as well as standards of care specified in the Joint Commission Universal Protocols adopted by Kaiser that mandate such films to be displayed and viewed on a nearby x-ray illuminated viewing box in the operating room.http://www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/facilities/Documents/HospitalAdministrativePenalties-2567Forms-LNC/2567KaiserFoundationSanDiego-SanDiegoCounty-NDLD11.pdf. The protocols even go so far as to require ‘time out” for the surgical team to confer regarding, and provide a final verification for, the surgery. All of the above steps were unfortunately ignored.
The daily activities of living of the patient were severely interrupted and will be impaired forever. Due to the horrifying result of the surgery, the lifestyle of this senior citizen cannot ever be the same. A claim or lawsuit for medical malpractice against the individuals involved as well as negligence of the hospital likely ensued; however, the article does not contain any information regarding these facts. It strains credulity to read or hear about such events. One can only hope this is an extremely rare anomaly, albeit never should have occurred.”