Doctor Denies Negligence in Removing the Wrong Organ During Procedure
Dr. Scott Baker and The Surgical Institute of South Dakota have admitted to mistakenly removing an Iowa patient’s healthy kidney, but the surgeon denied that he breached the standard of care during the procedure. The admission came in an answer to Dena Knapp’s lawsuit that Baker removed her healthy right kidney instead of an adrenal gland and an associated mass. Knapp developed stage-three kidney disease after her October 2016 surgery and subsequently filed her suit in August alleging professional negligence.
The complaint indicates Knapp was supposed to have an adrenal gland and a mass spotted on the gland removed during the Oct. 5, 2016 surgery at the Surgical Institute. Instead, Dr. Baker removed her healthy right kidney and subjected her to life-threatening disease. Knapp alleged that she wasn’t told about the mistake until after she was discharged and released from the hospital. When she left and returned home she was still under the impression all had gone as planned.
Baker had known on the day of the surgery that he hadn’t removed the adrenal gland because he was notified by Avera McKennan Hospital’s pathology department. Yet, Knapp said on Oct. 7 Baker told he hadn’t heard from pathology, according to court documents. He did indicate that he had to remove the kidney while taking out the adrenal gland.
“It was about 8:00 in the evening and the surgeon had come up into my patient room and was explaining to me at the time of the procedure when he was removing the adrenal gland and the mass that incidentally the kidney had come out with it,” Knapp said.
Baker then called Knapp several days later on Oct. 11 and told her that part of the adrenal gland was still inside her body and that he “did not get everything.” The doctor advised her that she would have to undergo a second surgery.
Baker does not deny he was made aware of the mix-up that same day but said he reported this to the patient right away. He stated Knapp was provided with the information on the day of her surgery, not several days later.
Baker and The Surgical Institute say they did not breach the standard of care by removing the kidney, failing to remove the adrenal gland, and failing to admit the mistake. Knapp’s medical records also indicated “a very superiorly located right adrenal gland,” which was near the large lobe of her liver, according to the response. They also deny that Knapp suffered damages. “Defendants,” the answer says, “deny the nature, scope, and extent of plaintiff’s claimed injuries, losses, and damages.”
Knapp contends the error resulted in an incurable, progressive disease in her remaining kidney. It says she suffers from pain, fatigue, depression, and mental distress as a result. “Further,” the lawsuit states, “since the erroneous surgery, Dena has been unable to perform many functions and has required replacement services to clean and maintain her home, the past and future cost of which is yet to be determined.”
After the incident, Knapp chose to have her adrenal gland removed at a follow-up appointment with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Nevertheless, she says she continues to suffer from the aftereffects of the unsuccessful procedure.