The medical profession deals with the lives of people – an area where there is no margin for error. Sadly however, whether due to a doctor’s incompetence or other reasons, errors are there and mistakes are made. These medical errors often have irreversible consequences and are the last thing a patient wants.
To educate you on these errors and help you find out about their types, we decided to make a list of the 10 most horrible medical errors and mistakes that have been made so far. Read about them below.
10. Amputation Errors
The surgeon for Willie King in Tampa, Florida was apparently confused between his two sides when the 52-year-old went to have his right foot amputated in 1995. King awoke post-op to discover that the surgeon had taken the wrong leg. To make matters worse, it was reportedly obvious which foot was troubling King since his right foot had visible tissue deterioration, sores, and gangrene. As it turned out, both of King’s legs were diseased and the left foot would have been amputated eventually, but that did not make the matter less awful.
King received $900,000 from the hospital and an additional $250,000 from the surgeon, who had his medical license suspended for six months and was fined $10,000. The incident did cause the hospital to put a variety of measures to double check for correct procedures. Source
9. Radiation Death
Radiation is often used as a cancer remedy, but like any other medical device, it must be used carefully and cautiously. Sadly, the chemotherapy of Scott Jerome-Parks was neither careful nor cautious. Jerome-Parks required treatment for tongue cancer, but medical staff in a New York City hospital did not notice a computer error that caused the radiation to be targeted on the 43-year-old’s brain stem and neck. These off target beams of radiation went on for three days.
Rather than curing Jerome-Parks’ cancer, the poor patient went deaf, nearly blind, and was unable to swallow. He also lost his teeth, while his mouth and throat were covered by ulcers. The high doses of radiation killed him weeks after his treatment. Source
The doctors at the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle filled a syringe that was supposed to be used for a harmless dye with disinfectant solution. The patient, Mary McClinton, passed away because of the mistake. The 69-year-old’s death was prior to surgery for a brain aneurysm.
The accident caused the hospital to change their labeling system and use a gel disinfectant, but these changes came about through the hardest of lessons. Source
7. Leftover of an operation: A towel
When Sabnam Praveen had a baby in 2007, her doctor at a mission hospital in Ambikapur left a towel in her intestine. Praveen suffered through three years of intense stomach pain before the towel was removed by a team of surgeons led by Neeraj Sindey of the Chhattisgarh Institute of Medical Sciences (CIMS) in January 2011. Source
6. Leftover of an operation: A 13-inch metal retractor
Donald Church was to have a 13 pound tumor from his abdomen removed by the University of Washington Medical Center in June, 2000. The tumor was removed successfully, but the surgeon left a 13-inch metal retractor in the tumor’s place. Once the retractor was discovered, it was removed without incident. Church did not suffer any long term effects from the extra surgery and the hospital paid him $97,000 for his trouble. Source
5. A Misdirected Feeding Tube
In 2006, the doctors treating Eugene “Gene” Riggs Jr. in San Antonio made a whopper of a mistake that ended up costing Riggs his life. The 79-year-old was admitted to the Brooke Army Medical Center with stomach pains. The doctors’ initial diagnosis was that they suspected that Riggs was suffering from a diverticular disease (infected pouches in the large intestine or colon). Because the doctors feared that Riggs was not getting enough nutrition, they ordered a feeding tube. An initial x-ray was misinterpreted and the feeding tube started to fill Riggs’ lung. It was left to fill the breathing organ with pinkish fluid for nine hours. A subsequent x-ray showed the mistake, but the damage was done and Riggs passed away four months later. Source
4. A Fertilization Mishap
Thomas and Nancy Andrews had difficulties bringing a second child into the world, so they went to New York Medical Services for Reproductive Medicine. The process was successful, but the happy parents were confused and upset when their child was born with darker skin than both parents. This wasn’t a case of recessive genes coming to the fore, but a big mess for the now defunct clinic.
DNA tests confirmed that the clinic had used another man’s sperm to inseminate Mrs. Andrews. While the New York State Supreme Court threw out parts of the Andrews’ lawsuit against the clinic, the malpractice suit was allowed to continue. The Andrews have raised baby Jessica, who was born in October of 2004, as their own. Source
3. Transplant Accident
Jessica Santillan, 17-year-old Mexican immigrant, had moved to the United States to seek treatment for a life-threatening heart condition. She went to Duke University Hospital to receive a heart transplant as well as a double lung transplant. Santillan was given organs from a donor who had Type A blood, but she had Type O. Her body rejected the new organs and she went into a coma. Another surgery was performed to give her organs of the appropriate blood type, but it was too late. She died shortly after the second surgery. Source
2. Losing an Eye
In 1892, ten-year-old Thomas Stewart of Montreal, Quebec lost the sight in one of his eyes after being struck by a penknife.
Dr. Alexander Proudfoot believed that in order to save the eye with sight, he had to remove the blind eye. The operation took place at the Stewarts’ residence, all went well until Proudfoot discovered he had removed the wrong eye. As a result Stewart lived blind for the rest of his life. Source
1. Doctor’s Anger
Dr. Naum Ciomu, a Romanian surgeon, was operating on 36-year-old Nelu Radonescu to correct a testicular malformation. Not only did Ciomu slice the male organ off, but proceeded to chop it to small pieces in front of a stunned nursing staff. His staff said that the doctor had been under stress and lost his temper when he accidentally cut the patient’s urinary channel.
Ciomu had his medical license suspended, and a Romanian court awarded Radonescu with 20,000 pounds for penis reconstruction (using tissue from his arm) as well as 100,000 pounds in damages. Source