Connecticut’s State Medical Examining Board holds the ability to revoke a doctor’s license if it’s deemed he or she is unfit to practice. In addition to this power, the board can also assess fines on doctors for negligent actions. Recently, the committee handled the cases of three doctors accused of negligence, including one doctor who performed spinal-disc surgery on the wrong part of a patient’s body.
According to reports, the surgeon in question admitted writing down the incorrect operation site during a pre-operation consultation. The doctor noticed his mistake at the end of the surgical procedure when he saw an MRI scan and quickly realized that he repaired the wrong spinal disc. Neither the doctor or patient was aware of the surgery site was incorrect when they were in a pre-operation meeting.
The doctor self-reported the surgical error to the state medical board, but he was still fined for making a careless mistake. Even though the doctor realized his error, there was — and still is — room for complications to arise. Regardless, the patient had to go through an unnecessary surgical procedure, which probably created unneeded discomfort during recovery.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time the hospital in this story has been involved in a “wrong site” surgical error. In fact, the medical board considered punishing a doctor at the same hospital for performing a procedure on the wrong arm only months ago. This heightens the importance of making sure that the correct operating site is clearly established before the procedure begins, which is something patients shouldn’t have to identify themselves.
Source: New Haven Register, “Three Connecticut doctors fined by medical board, one operated on wrong disc,” Kate Farrish, July 16, 2013