Medical mistakes can result in horrific injuries to patients seeking care for existing physical problems. These issues can lengthen recovery times, create new physical complications and even result in death. Malpractice comes into play when doctors and other medical professionals didn’t take the proper precautions to effectively diagnose or treat patient ailments. Some medical malpractice cases involve extreme lapses in judgment by medical professionals resulting in not only the unnecessary deaths of patients, but also a lifetime’s worth of suffering for surviving family members and friends. Here’s a look at some of the worst medical mistakes in recent history.
1. Repeated Brain Operations on the Wrong Side
Surgeons at Rhode Island Hospital in 2007 operated on the wrong side of patients’ brains three separate times, according to MSNBC. The last ill-fated operation occurred on November 23 when a neurologist drilled into the right side of a patient’s skull when scans clearly showed bleeding present on the left. The hospital received a reprimand and $50,000 fine for the incident from the Rhode Island Department of Health. In August of the same year, a patient died several weeks after a surgical team at the same hospital operated on the wrong side of his head.
2. Surgeon Removes Wrong Leg
Yes, this actually happens. In a case that grabbed national headlines in 1995, doctors amputated the wrong leg from then 52-year-old Willie King. A host of medical errors, including incorrect notations, led to King’s wrongful amputation. Surprisingly, the surgeon who performed the surgery only received a $10,000 fine and the loss of his medical license for six months. Meanwhile, King sued University Community Hospital and the surgeon involved for a combined $1.2 million, The New York Times reported.
3. Surgery Leads to Suicide
Being wide awake and unable to scream for help during surgery is a nightmare-turned-reality for thousands of patients every year, according to PubMed.gov. The phenomenon, known as anesthetic awareness, renders a patient completely aware and able to feel pain but unable to move or speak. An occurrence of anesthetic awareness in 2006 reportedly contributed to the suicide of a West Virginia pastor. Anesthesiologists supervising 73-year-old Sherman Sizemore’s exploratory surgery failed to administer proper drugs to render him unconscious until 16 minutes after the surgeon’s first incision. He committed suicide two weeks later.
4. Dana Carvey Nearly Dies Twice
Movie star and former Saturday Night Live cast member Dana Carvey nearly died twice when doctors bypassed the wrong artery in his heart. The then 42-year-old comedian had to undergo emergency surgery to bypass the legitimately-clogged artery and repair the damage to the first. The surgeon called the incident an “honest mistake”. Carvey didn’t agree and sued the doctor for $7.5 million citing the seriousness of the medical mistake and the nearly two-year recovery period.