Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer. When doctors and healthcare professionals act negligently, they can cause serious and life-threatening harm to their patients. While not every medical error is considered medical malpractice, the vast majority are. In the State of Florida alone, over 5,000 deaths occur each year due to medical malpractice.
On April 29, 2016, Maureen Pacheco was undergoing back surgery at Wellington Regional Medical Center to alleviate her lower back pain. That day, West Palm Beach surgeon, Dr. Ramon Vazquez, was in charge of performing the initial opening procedure and then two orthopedic surgeons were scheduled to perform a spinal fusion. When Dr. Vasquez opened the patient, he saw what he believed was a potentially malignant tumor in her pelvic region. He removed the mass and sent it to pathology for testing.
Unfortunately, that mass was one of Pacheco’s healthy kidneys. She had a condition from birth where one of her kidneys never ascended into her abdominal cavity. The underdeveloped kidney was, however, fully functional and her condition was well documented in her medical charts.
Dr. Vasquez believed, along with two other surgeons, that the mass should be removed due to potential malignancy. However, cancer surgery was not related to the patient’s medical condition and therefore medically unnecessary, according to a complaint file by the Florida Health Department. An expert brought in to look at the case, determined that Vasquez should have biopsied the mass prior to removal. The doctor should have also reviewed the X-rays prior to surgery.
He was fined $3,000 for the horrific medical mistake, and he must give a one-hour lecture on wrong-site surgery to the entire medical staff. He must also complete three hours of medical education on preoperative evaluation of surgical patients and pay an additional $4,800 in costs. Pacheco, however, is now left with only one fully functioning kidney, increasing her risk of developing chronic kidney disease and renal failure.
There are some medical events that honestly should never happen. Operating on a wrong site or removing a vital organ by mistake is one of those events. More than 4,000 never events happen every year in the United States and 71% of these events are fatal.
Some of the most common types of never events include:
If you believe that you or someone you love has been a victim of a never event, you may have cause to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. In this case, the first thing you should do is to contact an experienced and skilled medical malpractice lawyer. In the state of Florida, you only have 2 years from the incident to file a claim and the clock starts ticking from the moment you realized you were injured.
At Fetterman & Associates, our North Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyers understand how complex these cases can be. We know that hospitals and medical institutions fight medical malpractice claims aggressively. Without an experienced law firm on your side, you may not receive the money you need to right the wrongs that have been done to you or your loved ones.
At Fetterman & Associates, we believe in holding negligent medical institutions, hospitals, and doctors accountable for their negligence. Our North Palm Beach medical malpractice attorneys are here to help. Call us today at 1-561-845-2510 for a free initial consultation and review of your case. Call us today!
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