Doctor Accidentally Removes Woman's Kidney During Back Surgery

By RJ Johnson - @rickerthewriter

November 7, 2018

A Florida surgeon is in some hot water after mistaking a women's healthy kidney for a cancerous tumor during a routine back surgery, according to a report. 

The Palm Beach Post reports that Maureen Pacheco, then 51, had checked into Wellington Regional Center two years ago in April 2016 for a routine back surgery that was meant to fuse the bones in her lower back following a recent car accident.

However, instead of performing the requested surgery, Dr. Ramon Vazquez spotted the woman's kidney, and believed it was a tumor, declaring an emergency to remove the organ, according to details of a lawsuit obtained by the paper. 

The lawsuit was settled in September. 

Pacheco's attorney, Donald J. Ward told the paper that Vazquez wasn't even the doctor scheduled to perform the surgery. Vazquez was assigned to cutting Pacheco open so surgeons could perform the back surgery. 

Pacheco was never given the chance to weigh in on the matter, the lawsuit said. 

A complaint against Vazquez was filed by Florida's Department of Health saying the doctor provided "presumptive diagnosis of a gynecologic malignancy, lymphoma, and/or other metastatic disease."

Vazquez has served as chairman of surgery at Palm Beach Medical Center since January also has privileges at St. Mary's and Good Samaritan medical centers. The surgeon could be required to pay a fine, and could even lose his medical license according to the report. 

The newpaper reports that Vazquez did not carry malpractice insurance and that the malpractice insurers for Pacheco's primary surgeons settled the lawsuit for $250,000 apiece. 

Mistakes like the one Vazquez made are known in the medical community as "never events" - as in, mistakes that should never happen according to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

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