They Operated on the Wrong Side of His Brain

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    San Jose Surgeons help paralyzed man breathe on his own

    A surgical team operated on the wrong side of man's brain, according to health officials.

    The incident occurred at Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, one of three in the county (and 13 in the state) fined for alleged code violations that endangered patient safety.

    According to a report prepared by authorities with the California Heath and Human Services Agency, a 93-year-old man was scheduled for surgery in January 2009 to stop bleeding in his brain, but after the surgical team exposed the right side of his brain, they could not find any bleeding. Reviewing their documentation revealed they had operated on the wrong side of his head. The team closed him up, then operated on the other side of his brain.

    According to the report, the "hospital's surgical team had performed the mandatory time out prior to commencing surgery on Patient R's brain. The entire surgical team failed to recognize that the right side of Patient R's head had been incorrectly marked by Surgeon 1 prior to the surgery."

    "If somebody had said, you know, 'We have the right side of the head, marked, but this says left,' if somebody had raised that, if somebody had noticed that, it would have stopped," Sharp vice president Nancy Pratt told KPBS.

    The penalties were announced Wednesday by the California Department of Public Health. The other two county hospitals are Sharp Memorial Hospital -- which was fined for leaving a sponge inside a patient after surgery -- and UCSD Medical Center, which also left a foreign object (a guide wire used to aid the insertion of a catheter). Each of the three medical centers was fined $50,000.
       
    More than 30 percent of the penalties are a result of medical errors, according to officials. The second-most-common violation was for leaving surgical tools or sponges inside patients.