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Same name mix up leads to surgical error

Many people find it amusing when they encounter someone with the same or similar name as their own. The individuals will often discuss this novelty and then move on with their day giving little thought to the possible ramifications of two individuals in the same place with the same name. For the most part, there is little need to dwell on the unusual discovery. However, as two Massachusetts individuals recently discovered, this situation could lead to the possibility of a surgical error.  

It appears that problems for these two individuals began in the admissions process and continued from there. One of the patients had been admitted to have a kidney removed because of a tumor. Unfortunately, there was a mix up in correctly identifying the patient, and the other patient is the one whose kidney was removed. Doctors began to realize there was a potential problem when they did not see a tumor on the kidney during surgery.

Once the kidney was removed, it was sent to the pathology department where it was determined that the organ removed was healthy. An investigation into the incident showed that the patient's surgical plan was actually based upon data from the other individual with the same name. Upon examination, further investigation pointed to a number of problems with other records.

Undergoing surgery is traumatic enough for most in Massachusetts. The possibility of a surgical error resulting in a healthy organ being removed is frightening. Patients or their families who have suffered as the result of a surgical error will want to discuss the situation with experienced legal counsel to determine the best option leading to emotional, physical and financial recovery.

Source: masslive.com, "St. Vincent Hospital could lose Medicare, Medicaid after botched kidney removal", Phil Demers, Oct. 14, 2016

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