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    Nephrectomy gone wrong leaves patient paraplegic

    Finger pointing among defendant doctors often backfires, results in settlement

    Dawn Collins, JDMs. CollinsA 49-year-old Illinois man went to the emergency room in 2011 with what he believed was pain from a kidney stone. A computed tomography scan showed a large mass on the left kidney that was thought to be cancer.

    A few weeks later, the patient underwent laparoscopic surgery to remove the left kidney. The urologist performing the operation was assisted by his partner, another urologist. The assistant held the camera so that the surgeon could see the relevant anatomy. Several hours into the operation, the assistant left the room to perform a vasectomy on a patient in his office on the hospital campus. During this time, a technician operated the camera.

    Read: Unnecessary kidney surgery proves costly

    After the assistant left the operating room, the surgeon encountered bleeding. He used a GIA stapler—with both stapling and cutting components—which was left in place to identify the source of the bleeding, and the surgeon asked the nurses to find another surgeon to help him. A general surgeon came from an adjacent operating room to assist. The stapling device was then removed from the cavity, and the first assistant surgeon returned to the operating room before the kidney was removed.

    After surgery, the patient complained of pain in his legs and lacked a pulse and feeling in his legs. An arteriogram showed a dark mass within the aorta. He was then transferred to another hospital for exploratory surgery. A vascular surgeon discovered that the aorta had been cut in half and stapled to both sides. This cut off the blood flow to the spinal cord and legs.

    NEXT: Right renal arteries stapled, cut

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    Dawn Collins, JD
    MS COLLINS is an attorney specializing in medical malpractice in Long Beach, California. She welcomes feedback on this column via ...

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