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In South Dakota, Dena Knapp went into surgery to remove a mass on her adrenal gland. She came out with the mass still intact, but missing a kidney. Adrenal glands are located on top of each kidney, and evidently, the surgeon got confused. Though he did get the memo the day prior of what to remove, and he did get the memo following surgery that he had removed the wrong organ, he continued to misrepresent the situation to his patient for days.
She finally had the correct procedure performed, but at a different hospital in Minnesota, and is now suing for the loss of her healthy kidney.
Knapp went into surgery on October 5, 2016 to have her right adrenal gland, and its corresponding mass, removed. Later that day, the pathology department at Avara McKennan Hospital informed Baker that he had removed her kidney, not her adrenal gland. In fact, the adrenal gland, and its mass, were still inside Knapp. On October 7, 2016, Baker told Knapp that he hadn't heard back yet from the hospital regarding the biopsy of the adrenal mass, and then on October 11th, told Knapp that he "did not get everything" and Knapp needed another surgery. "Did not get everything"? That's a gross misrepresentation of what happened, to say the least.
Since the surgery, Knapp claims she has succumbed to an incurable progressive kidney disease in her remaining kidney, and that she suffers from pain, fatigue, depression, and mental distress as a result of the doctor's malpractice. The filing also claims Knapp has incurred expenses in excess of $96,000 and $42,000 worth of earnings; these expenses will undoubtedly continue to rise before the case is settled or adjudicated.
The hospital has already barred Baker from further surgeries. In most wrong-site surgeries, medical malpractice is rather easy to prove. But unfortunately, the settlement or award amount can be surprisingly low. In one study, only a third of wrong-site cases result in a malpractice suit, and the average payment was less than $81,000 in cases resulting in a lawsuit and $47,000 in those resolved without legal action. These are likely where there was little irreparable injury to the plaintiff.
However, in 2013, a Pennsylvania jury awarded a 54 year old man $620,000 for pain and suffering plus $250,000 in punitive damages, after it was found his surgeon was "recklessly indifferent" in removing the wrong testicle. And in 2010, a jury awarded $20 million to a 15 year-old Arkansas boy who was left psychotic and with severe brain damage following surgery on the wrong side of the boy's brain. In that case, the error was not disclosed to his parents for over a year.
If you have been the victim of a wrong-site surgery, or any other form of medical malpractice, contact a local medical malpractice attorney. An experienced attorney can go over the specifics of your case and offer you legal guidance on how to proceed.
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