A California surgeon has been placed on probation for removing the wrong kidney from a federal inmate.
A surgeon at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, California, accidentally removed a healthy kidney from a 59-year-old incarcerated male in 2012. According to reports, the doctor was supposed to remove a tumor-ridden left kidney from the patient, but left the CT scans of the kidneys back at the office.
In this case, and others like it, it is important for patients to know what a doctor is liable for when wrong-site surgeries occur. In this specific case, the California Medical Board found that the doctor “relied on memory to decide which kidney to remove,” and his discipline was three years of probation.
Doctors, lawyers, and many other types of professionals keep their licenses, or ability to practice their specialty, by abiding by certain levels of professional responsibility. In this specific case, the California Medical Board placed the doctor on three years of probation, meaning he can still practice medicine as long as he:
- Completes a wrong-site surgery course
- Notifies hospitals and medical facilities about his probation status
- No longer supervises physician assistants
Again, in this specific case, if the doctor violates these terms, he could have his license revoked.