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Woman's speech, mobility deteriorate after brain operation error

Because surgical errors can be devastating for patients, as well as the hospitals responsible, surgeons and hospital staff members in New Mexico follow procedures designed to prevent errors. In rare cases, however, mistakes happen, and patients can become severely handicapped as a result. Fortunately, hospitals and medical professionals often learn from these doctor errors and make appropriate adjustments to their procedures.

When a woman went to the hospital for brain surgery, she left with more complications than she had planned for. Instead of operating on her left side, which needed a bypass surgery, the surgeons operated on her right side. Several hospital employees who were in the operating room may have noticed the error as the surgeon was operating on the wrong side of the woman's brain, but they apparently failed to speak up. Days after the first surgery, surgeons operated in the correct side of her brain. Although the woman's speech had deteriorated prior due to several strokes prior to the surgery, the woman's attorney alleges that the surgical error severely limited her ability to speak and to move. It is unknown whether the woman's speech or mobility is expected to improve. 

Now the hospital is facing a medical malpractice lawsuit for the surgeon’s error. Thankfully, the surgeon quickly admitted his mistake, and the hospital said it plans to work to identify and correct problems that may have caused the error. The doctor responsible, who has extensive medical experience and credentials, has not commented on the case.

Unfortunately, the woman’s case is not an isolated incident. In the last 40 years, there have been about 35 victims of wrong-side brain operations; however, some additional incidents have gone unreported. Victims of surgical errors may be entitled to compensation through a medical malpractice claim.

Source: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Lawsuit accuses surgeon of operating on wrong side of woman’s brain,” Jim Doyle, April 30, 2013

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