This past September we wrote about a hospital in Ohio that during a surgery to harvest the kidney of a donor, somehow managed to throw the kidney away, making the transplant impossible. The kidney, which had been placed in a basin that was then stored in a slush machine, was discarded by a nurse who did not realize it was there. The surgical error resulted in several suspensions, two of which led to nurses leaving the hospital, and a change in how the organ to be transplanted is stored.
Since the botched surgery, which left the patient in need of the transplant without her brother's donated organ, the University of Toledo Medical Center has implemented the use of a different type of storage container for transplants. Rather than the metal bowl, organs are now placed in a square plastic box that is labeled with its contents. Unlike the container previously used, the plastic box has a lid.
This is not the only change that has been made at the hospital. Now, everything must remain in the operating room until the patient being operated on is first taken out. Also, the surgeon must provide permission for individuals participating in the surgery to take a break. Next, alarms have been added to the slush machine in which organs are stored. One is infrared and triggered by motion when individuals come near it. The other sits upon the machine and will both make a noise and visually indicate that it has been lifted up.
All would likely agree that it is good that changes have been put into place to help prevent a surgical error such as this one from occurring in the future. A more appealing outcome however would be for it to have never happened in the first place. As we wrote about in our previous post on the matter, a surgical error such as this one could lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit. It is unclear whether such a case has been filed.
Source: The Toledo Blade, "Changes in place after botched surgery," Jennifer Feehan, Oct. 7, 2012
Medical errors such as those that occur in the operating room can lead to serious consequences including death. We handle cases that arise out of the type of issues discussed in this post. For more information on these types of claims, please visit our Pittsburgh surgical errors page.