Florida Surgeon To Pay $3,000 Fine After Removing Patient's Healthy Kidney Mistakenly Thought As Tumor


A surgeon has to pay a fine of $3,000 for removing a kidney he mistakenly believed as tumor, which stems from not reading the medical records of the patient prior to the operation.

The surgeon, Ramon Vazquez, cut open patient Maureen Pacheco in April 2016 at the Wellington Regional Medical Center. Two orthopedic doctors were set to perform a spinal fusion on the patient who complained of back pains.

Kidney Removal

The mishap happened when Vazquez observed a mass, which he thought was cancerous, in the pelvic region. He described it as "gynecological malignancy, lymphoma and/or other metastatic disease."

Thinking it was a tumor, the surgeon removed the organ even without the patient's consent. However, Pacheco was born with a kidney that remained in the pelvic region, although it was intact, as per the findings of the pathologist.

The nature of the patient's kidney was stated in the medical records. To this, Vazquez admitted failing to review the history of Pacheco before the surgery.

In December 2017, the Florida Health Department filed a complaint against the erring surgeon, explaining the agency found the procedure "medically unnecessary" because there was no connection between the cancer diagnosis and Pacheco's health state.

Penalties For Mistakenly Removing Kidney

The first settlement of $1,500 was rejected. Vazquez's attorney, Michael Burt, described his client as "an excellent surgeon" who just, along with the two doctors, "exercised professional judgment."

Furthermore, the health department said that it was only after the operation that the patient had informed the doctors of his pelvic kidney. However, Pacheco's lawyer, Donald J. Ward III, argued that the primary surgeons were well aware of her condition.

Vazquez was only introduced to the patient before the operation, specifically after Pacheco was given anesthesia, Ward explained.

As compared to the two orthopedic surgeons, Jeffrey Kugler and John Britt, who settled with Pacheco for $250,000 each, Vazquez's $3,000-fine was minimal because he doesn't have malpractice insurance. Apart from this nominal penalty, he must pay close to $4,900 for court expenses, hold a lecture about wrong-site surgery for an hour, and finish three hours of education for preoperative evaluation of patients.

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