Doctor Removes Wrong Kidney: A Reminder About Wrong-Site Surgeries

iStock_000015663601_Large.jpgIn December, 2014, a California surgeon was placed on probation after removing the wrong kidney from a federal inmate. In 2012, surgeon Dr. Charles Coonan Streit of St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, California, made the mistake of moving the functional kidney from a 59-year-old incarcerated man.

Dr. Streit had the assignment of removing a tumor-ridden kidney from the patient, reported the Orange County Register. However, Streit left the CT scans of the kidneys back at his office and ended up instead removing the healthy kidney. Cases like these raise questions such as, what is the doctor liable, and what should you know about wrong-site injuries?

Many people assume that after a doctor makes an error like Dr. Streit did, they are then prohibited from performing surgeries. However, this isn’t always the case. The California Medical Board did not ban Streit from performing surgeries for life, even though they that he “relied on memory to decide which kidney to remove.” Rather, Streit faced three years of probation.

Doctors, as well as other professionals such as lawyers, are required to abide by certain levels of professional responsibility in order to maintain their professional skills. In the medical field of California, the California Medical Board has the responsibility of reviewing complaints of doctor misconduct, as well as issuing discipline when necessary. In the case of Dr. Streit, the Board placed him on three years of probation, which means he can still practice medicine as long as he:

  • Completes a wrong-site surgery course
  • Notifies hospitals and medical facilities of his probation
  • Ceases supervision of physician assistants, and
  • Makes quarterly reports to the Board

Much like in cases of criminal probation, Streit would face further penalties if he violated his probation. If Streit violated any of these terms he would lose his medical license.

Unfortunately, wrong-site surgical errors do happen from time to time. Wrong-site injuries are one example of several common kind of medical mistakes that can lead to malpractice lawsuits. Surgical errors like Streit’s mistake, are among the three most common. Medication errors, which occur when a patient is administered the wrong medication, are also very common. Diagnostic errors are also among the most common, and they can occur when a medical ailment is misdiagnosed or when a doctor fails to diagnose an ailment. Unfortunately medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in America.

Surgical mistakes can also include leaving foreign objects inside a patient, infections caused by poor hygiene, and even patients suffering falls while unconscious. These mistakes can leave serious physical and mental scars on victims, so don’t hesitate to have a malpractice attorney evaluate your medical mistake case.If you’ve been the victim of a wrong-site or even wrong-person surgery, a malpractice attorney can help you pursue compensation for an otherwise confusing and upsetting situation.

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