The patient, a 76-year-old male, was on dialysis with two failed and diseased kidneys when the wrong kidney was removed, Mount Sinai spokeswoman Dorie Klissas said, according to the Associated Press (AP). ABC Eyewitness News reported that doctors subsequently removed the second failed kidney and the patient is doing well. “This event should never have occurred at Mount Sinai,” Klissas said. “We apologized to the patient, and we will do all we can to ensure that something like this never happens again.”
The hospital declined to name the surgeon because of a policy not to comment on personnel matters, according to the AP.
This type of mistake – operating on the wrong side of the body or removing the wrong one of a pair of organs – happens at hospitals across the country. According to the AP, in a 2008 surgery, a Minneapolis surgeon also removed the wrong kidney from a cancer patient. A state investigation revealed that the surgeon was distracted by pager calls and misread the patient’s chart. Hospitals and outpatient surgical centers have instituted multi-step procedures to avoid the chance of error, including marking the surgical site prior to taking the patient to the operating room; repeatedly confirming the site with the patient prior to administering anesthesia; and requiring doctors and operating room personnel to repeatedly confirm the correct location before and during the procedure.