Top 10 Unbelievable Medical Mistakes



Top 10 Unbelievable Medical Mistakes

VOICE OVER: Sean Harris WRITTEN BY: Astrid Willis Countee
An apple a day will keep the doctor away, which is exactly what you will want after seeing this list. For this list, we're looking at some of the most horrifying errors made by those in the medical profession. WatchMojo counts down the Top 10 Worst Mistakes Ever Made By Doctors.

Special thanks to our user drewbrown for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Worst+Mistakes+Ever+Made+by+Doctors.

Top 10 Worst Mistakes Ever Made By Doctors

An apple a day will keep the doctor away… and that’s exactly what you will want after seeing this list. This is Unveiled, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Worst Mistakes Ever Made by Doctors.

For this list, we’re looking at some of the most horrifying errors made by those in the medical profession. Don’t get us wrong: doctors and nurses do important and difficult work, but these were serious – sometimes fatal – slipups.

#10: The Fertility Clinic Used the Wrong Sperm

When Thomas and Nancy Andrews wanted to have a child, they turned to modern medicine for help. Their daughter was born in 2004 but unlike her Caucasian father and Hispanic mother, baby Jessica is black. When the couple brought their concerns to their doctor, he allegedly told them that her condition was an "abnormality," and assured them she would "get lighter over time.” Three DNA tests said otherwise, and ultimately showed that Thomas was not Jessica’s biological father. The Andrews sued both the clinic and the doctor, claiming that every time they looked at Jessica they were reminded of the clinic’s mistake.

#9: Removed Kidney Instead of Gallbladder

In 2006 in Milford, Massachusetts, an 84-year-old woman went into to surgery to have her gallbladder removed. The plan was to have a laparoscopic surgery, where the surgeon makes a small incision and uses tools to perform the tasks. But due to swelling and inflammation, surgeon Patrick McEnaney, switched to an open surgery. McEnaney went on to remove the patient's kidney, instead of her gallbladder. A pathologist discovered the error 3 days later. Meanwhile, the patient ended up not needing the gallbladder surgery after all, as her condition improved after the botched attempt, and McEnaney was allowed to continue to practice, albeit under supervision.

#8: Unneeded Double Mastectomy

Imagine being a 35 year old single mom and told that you have breast cancer. If you are anything like Darrie Eason, your response would be “Please, don’t let me die”. Under the advice of her doctors, Eason underwent a double mastectomy to stop the cancer in its tracks... and then it turned out she'd never had cancer to begin with. Instead, a lab technician reportedly “cut corners” and mixed Eason's results with another patient. Eason went on to sue the lab for an undisclosed amount, and advocated that patients seek a second biopsy before pursuing treatment.

#7: Drilling into the Wrong Side of the Skull

In 2007, an 82-year-old woman required surgery at Rhode Island Hospital to stop bleeding in her brain. Even though the CT scan showed that the bleeding was on the left side, the neurosurgeon started drilling burr holes on the right. The mistake was caught, and the surgeon continued on the left as normal. However, the same mistake was performed two more times that year, which left one elderly patient dead weeks after his surgery. After this third slip up, Rhode Island Hospital was fined $50,000 by the Department of Health out of concern for their “continuing pattern” of mishaps in the operating room.

#6: Surgical Tools Left in Patients

Sadly, it’s not that uncommon for surgical tools to be left inside of patients, like when a square foot of sponge was left in Judge Nelson Bailey of Palm Beach County, Florida - or the unusual case of Donald Church. After he underwent surgery in his abdomen to remove a tumor, Church returned for a CT scan, citing extreme pain. It turned out that doctors had left a 13-inch retractor inside of Church, taking up the length of his trunk. Fortunately the mistake didn't have a lasting impact on his health. However, the hospital was forced to pony up $97,000 to him in a settlement.

#5: Removed Wrong Testicle

47-year-old Benjamin Houghton had been complaining of pain and shrinkage in his left testicle. Because doctors at West Los Angeles VA Medical Center feared that this might be signs of cancer, they advised the Air Force veteran to have the testicle removed. But, instead of removing the left testicle, doctors removed the right, healthy testicle. Without the healthy testicle, Mr. Houghton won’t be able to get the testosterone he needs to avoid health concerns in the future. A suit was filed for over $200,000 to cover future health costs and damages.

#4: Anesthetic Awareness

One of the biggest fears of people going under the knife is waking up during surgery. But for Sherman Sizemore, it was worse than that, because he never went to sleep in the first place. The Baptist preacher was admitted to Raleigh General Hospital for exploratory surgery in 2006, and was given drugs to paralyze his muscles. But the anesthesiologists failed to give him the general anesthesia that would make him unconscious. He experienced agonizing pain and was haunted by memories of the surgery. Constant nightmares and torment drove him to suicide less than a month after surgery, and his family to sue the hospital.

#3: An Open Heart Invasive Procedure… on the Wrong Patient

This should have been an easy mistake to avoid. A patient was admitted for a procedure to locate brain aneurysms, but after completing the cerebral angiography that she had been scheduled for, the patient was returned to the wrong floor. From there, a different team of doctors took the patient to perform... heart surgery. An hour into the procedure, the surgeons received a call to abort. Fortunately, the patient left the OR in stable condition, but it doesn't undo the fact that she should never have been there in the first place.

#2: Removed Wrong Leg

This may be the most widely publicized case of surgical mishaps. In 1995, Willie King was scheduled for leg amputation for a diseased leg. A series of errors, such as the wrong leg allegedly being indicated on some charts and the board in the operating room, led to the wrong leg coming off. Although Dr. Rolando Sanchez was fined and suspended, he defended his actions, stating that the leg he removed was in poor shape, and would have likely needed to be removed eventually. In a hearing, Dr. Sanchez was defended by other surgeons who stated that “90 percent of surgeons... would have made the same mistake”.

#1: Wrong Heart & Lung Transplant

Jesica Santillan, a 17 year old Mexican girl, traveled to the US to receive care for her life-threatening heart condition. Her physician, Dr. Jaggers, was an accomplished pediatric surgeon who had performed about 100 transplants by the time he treated Santillan. The surgery was going smoothly until 5 hours in, when Jaggers was informed that the donor heart and lungs were blood type A, which would be rejected by Jesica's type O blood. Soon after, the girl slipped into a coma, and while Dr. Jaggers tried to correct the mistake with a second transplant almost 2 weeks later, Santillan died soon afterward.