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Lawsuits & Litigation

Vanderbilt University Medical Center Under Fire After Doctors Operate on Wrong Kidney

— March 20, 2019

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is at the center of a lawsuit filed by a woman who claims the hospital operated on the wrong kidney during a surgery she underwent in 2017.

A woman in Tennessee is suing Vanderbilt University Medical Center over allegations that the hospital operated on the wrong kidney while she underwent surgery. According to the woman, Carla Miller, her medical team was supposed to “implant a small mesh tube extending from her left kidney through her urinary system to her bladder during her surgery in November 2017.” However, during the procedure, her doctors “implanted the tube in her right kidney, then ran it through the wrong half of her body.” It’s important to note that what happened to Miller is so rare and so preventable that many experts in the medical field call it a “never event.”

The lawsuit itself was filed earlier this week in Davidson County Circuit Court because the medical error caused Miller to suffer. For example, her “urinary system was damaged and she now needs dialysis for life,” according to her attorney, Afsson Hagh. Additionally, Miller had to endure a “second surgery to remove the mesh tube and place it on the correct side of her body.” As a result of her suffering, Miller and her legal team are seeking about $25 million in damages. Of that $25 million, $15 million is in punitive damages and the other $5.5 million is in compensatory damages.

Image of a legal gavel
Legal Gavel; image courtesy of qimono via Pixabay,

Why did Miller have to undergo the surgery in the first place, though? Well, according to the suit, she was “hospitalized at Vanderbilt with pain in her side and a fever.” After an examination, her medical team recommended the surgery to implant a “22-centimeter stent, which is a mesh tube that is placed inside an artery or ureter to prevent the passageway from collapsing.”

The lawsuit argues that safeguards existed that should have prevented the wrong kidney from being operated on. For example, “both Miller and a Vanderbilt doctor signed paperwork verifying that the stent was to be implanted in her left kidney.” Next, “hospital protocols require a step-by-step timeout that double-checks the site of a surgery.” Last, “imaging technology like X-rays should have been used both before and during surgery to confirm the stent was implanted in the right place.

In an email statement, Hagh said:

“For a wrong site surgery to occur, there has to be a significant series of breakdowns and errors by multiple healthcare providers. The fact that such a chain of missteps occurred here is very concerning.”

At the moment, the hospital has yet to respond to requests for comment.


Vanderbilt operated on wrong kidney, claims $25.5M lawsuit

Vanderbilt doctors operated on wrong kidney, claims $25.5M lawsuit

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