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A pediatrician in Manchester, England accidentally removed 90% of a baby girl’s bladder after mistaking it for a hernia during what should have been a routine surgery.

Afterward, the doctor sewed up the seven-week-old baby with no idea what she had done. Within about a day, the baby experienced acute kidney failure and was taken into surgery, where other doctors found that most of her bladder had been removed and that both her ureters (which help transfer urine from the kidney to the bladder) had been damaged. The hernia that the pediatrician should have taken out was still completely intact.

The baby will now have to use a catheter and have ongoing medical treatment for the rest of her life.

Medical negligence like this occurs in hospitals across the United States every day. Almost 100,000 people die every year from preventable medical errors. Tort reform and caps on damages are not the answer; the answer is a federally mandated focus on reducing medical errors in the first place. For one example of a simple but effective way to reduce errors, see Dr. Atul Gawande on the overwhelming success of medical checklists.

2 Comments

  1. Wow, this really is one of those that seems almost impossible. It is important that through out the heath care debate that no one stop looking at safety. Good doctors and good care is what makes a difference and cuts down on claims.

  2. Gravatar for Penny Lane

    The focus has to be on patient safety. There are at least 98,000 preventable deaths from medical mistakes each year. For details see www.98000reasons.org.

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