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Doctors remove organ mistaken for cancer

Few things are more nerve-wracking than undergoing surgery. In fact, many people choose Arizona doctors only after reviewing performance records and qualifications.

There is some uncertainty involved with any invasive surgery, but few people would expect catastrophic mistakes, such as that which befell a Florida patient undergoing back surgery a number of years ago. This particular case was recently the subject of a half-million dollar settlement.

The procedures began normally, with a patient suffering from chronic back pain going in for a spinal fusion. The patient had appropriate imaging performed pre-surgery. However, while the surgeon was operating, he mistook a kidney for a cancerous mass.

The doctor involved was able to avoid admitting liability by making a settlement instead of pursuing litigation to its final conclusion. While this may seem like an escape of justice, it is important to remember that licensing boards, hospital administration and other regulatory bodies tend to conduct independent reviews of performance.

This type of surgery of opportunity is not unheard of. Doctors are sometimes able to diagnose extremely harmful conditions when in the middle of an operation. However, is generally considered unethical to do any type of procedure without a patient's informed consent.

Operating on the wrong organ is a serious mistake. However, there are many other types of medical malpractice. For example, wet floors in a hospital could be grounds for a case. An emergency room that delayed assistance to a critically ill patient may also be liable. Injured individuals should generally explore all possible avenues to obtain compensation for any medical error.

Source: The Palm Beach Post. "Woman checks in for back surgery; surgeon thinks he sees cancer, removes vital organ." John Pacenti.

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