Doctor Mistakes Healthy Kidney For Cancerous Tumor, Removes It During Routine Back Surgery

A complaint has been filed against a Florida surgeon who removed a patient’s healthy kidney during a routine back surgery. The surgeon removed the organ because he thought it was a cancerous tumor.

Botched Surgery

In April 2016, then-51-year-old Maureen Pacheco went to the Wellington Regional Medical Center in Florida to undergo an anterior spinal fusion, to which surgeon Ramon Vazquez was assisting. During the surgery, Vazquez noticed a mass near Pacheco’s pelvic area, and thinking that it was some “gynecological malignancy, lymphoma, and/or metastatic disease,” he removed the mass completely.

However, in May of the same year, a pathologist confirmed that the mass removed from Pacheco’s pelvis was actually an intact pelvic kidney that was deemed as normal apart from its position. As such, the patient filed a complaint, stating that the removal of her kidney was an “unnecessary procedure,” as it was not related to the spine condition for which she went under the knife.

Violation Of Florida Statutes

According to Section 456.072 (1)(bb) of Florida Statutes, a licensee may be subjected to discipline for performing a wrong procedure or an unnecessary or unauthorized procedure or for performing a procedure on the wrong patient or on the wrong procedure site. In Pacheco’s case, the complaint states that Vazquez performed a medically unnecessary procedure that was unrelated to the diagnosis when he removed a kidney during a lumbar fusion.

According to the Vazquez’s lawyer, Mark Mittelmark, the case was settled this past September for a “nominal amount,” but that he did not admit liability for the botched surgery by agreeing to the settlement.

Living With One Kidney

According to the National Kidney Foundation, most people who live with just one kidney live a healthy life. However, they may experience health problems such as high blood pressure and loss of kidney function in the long run.

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