Regina Turner, 53 years-old, entered the hospital for a “left-sided craniotomy bypass” operation. The Missouri woman, a former paralegal, began suffering from strokes five years ago and the surgery was supposed to prevent future strokes. But the neurosurgeon operated on the wrong side of her brain, performing a “right-sided craniotomy surgical procedure”. Once the operating team realized they had made an error, a second surgery was performed six days later on the correct side of Turner’s skull, but a lawsuit recently filed alleges that permanent damage has been done.
The lawsuit, which names both the neurosurgeon and SSM St. Clare Health Center, alleges, “Before the incorrect surgery, plaintiff was mobile, cognizant and able to care for herself,” the suit alleges. “After the incorrect surgery, (Turner) requires around-the-clock care for her basic needs. … (She) will also continue to suffer from emotional distress, anxiety, disfigurement and depression.”
In a statement to the Associated Press, Chris Howard, the hospital’s CEO and president, apologized to the family and said an investigation is being conducted. “This was a breakdown in our procedures, and it absolutely should not have happened,” said Howard. “We apologized to the patient and continue to work with the patient and family to resolve this issue with fairness and compassion.”
In a 2010 study, the Journal of Neurosurgery identified 35 documented cases of wrong-side craniotomies that happened from 1966 to 2009 in the United States. It also concluded that additional cases were probably settled and never brought to the attention of state medical licensing boards, courts and news organizations.
Our Virginia medical malpractice law firm has reported previously about “never events” – events that should never have happened. We’ve represented many clients who have been injured in surgical never events. Hide-and-Seek: When Surgical Tools Are Left Inside Patients reports on one client our firm represented where a small piece of a surgical instrument had broken off and was left inside the patient. Another client we represented received a $425,000 settlement for a retained surgical sponge injury.