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Hospital Removes Part of Wrong Rib

Steve Wagner

Last year, Deborah Craven underwent surgery at Yale New Haven Hospital because of a precancerous lesion on her eighth rib. Doctors planned to remove a section of her eighth rib to minimize the risk of a full-blown cancer. After her surgery, she complained of pain, and an x-ray was performed. At that time, an assistant professor of surgery at Yale, informed her that the wrong rib had been removed. Instead of removing a portion of her eighth rib, the surgeon had removed a part of her seventh rib.

Just a few minutes later, it is alleged that Dr. Ricardo Quarrie spoke to Craven and her husband and told them a second surgery would be necessary; however, they say his given reason for the second surgery was that the surgeons “had not removed enough rib during the surgery.” Records show Dr. Quarrie’s involvement in the second surgery despite the Cravens’ specific request that he not be a part of the surgical team. The Cravens are now suing Yale New Haven Hospital for the error, as well as for attempting to cover it up. A statement by Yale says they realized the error and reported to the Connecticut Department of Health after informing and apologizing to the patient.

Wrong-Site Surgeries Not Uncommon

Wrong-site surgeries are “never events,” meaning they should never happen. When they do happen, the medical community believes they are an indication of serious underlying safety problems at a hospital, clinic, or other facility. Despite the notation as a “never event,” a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that wrong-site surgery errors take place in approximately 1 out of every 112,000 surgical procedures. At this rate, a hospital would expect to see one case of wrong-site surgery every 5-10 years. The AHRQ data estimate 1300 – 2700 wrong-site, wrong procedure, wrong patient adverse events (WSPEs) occur each year.

That seems like a relatively low occurrence rate; however, the AHRQ also surveyed 400 surgeons, and 50% reported they had performed at least one surgery resulting in a WSPE. A different study focused specifically on orthopedic surgeons found that spine surgeons were the most likely to report a wrong-site surgery, with single level lumbar laminotomy being the most common wrong-site procedure.

In 2004, The Joint Commission released The Universal Protocol for Preventing Wrong Site, Wrong Procedure, and Wrong Person Surgery. It is believed that The Universal Protocol can prevent over 60% of all WSPEs. A large focus is communication, as the data shows large numbers of wrong-site surgical events happen as a result of poor or absent communication between members of the surgical team.

Have You Been The Victim of a Wrong Site, Wrong Procedure, or Wrong Person Surgery?

If so, the medical malpractice attorneys at Wagner Reese can help you regain control of your life. Whether your WSPE had a short or long-term impact on your life and health, we want to help you get you the compensation you deserve. Our Indianapolis-based law firm will fight for you against powerful medical malpractice insurance companies, and it won’t cost you a thing up front, as we do not collect fees unless you are awarded compensation for your injuries. To begin, please call for your free consultation: (888) 204-8440.

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