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Egregious medical malpractice errors in the news

Medical errors happen on a regular basis in hospitals and doctors’ offices throughout the world. The reasons for these range from such things as tired medical professionals to systemic problems related to a flawed process.

Occasionally, though, some errors result in mistakes and legal judgments that become well known to society.

Brain operation on the wrong side of the head

The National Law Review summarized a faulty brain surgery in 2007 at a Rhode Island hospital that resulted in a major error. The surgical team operated on the wrong side of a patient’s head—on three occasions. In one instance, the neurologist drilled into the right side of the head through the problem of bleeding that occurred on the left side.

The Rhode Island Department of Health issued a reprimand and a $50,000 fine to the hospital. Later that year, a patient died due to a similar error at the same hospital.

Leg amputation on the wrong leg

In 1995, surgeons amputated the wrong leg on a 52-year-old male patient. Several errors led up to the erroneous amputation. The surgeon received a $10,000 fine and the loss of his medical license for six months. The patient sued the hospital and received a settlement worth $1.2 million.

In other well-known cases, an error in anesthesia in 2006 resulted in excruciating pain for one patient. The patient committed suicide soon after the operation. Comedian Dana Carvey underwent emergency heart surgery and the surgeons focused their attention on the wrong artery. Carvey, faced with a two-year recovery process, sued for $7.5 million.

While these cases seem extraordinary, many medical errors have serious consequences. These include pain and suffering, physical complications and even death.