As a patient walked in to Milton Keynes Hospital for her surgery appointment, Lauren Hodgson thought the pain her damaged kidney was giving her will be gone in a few hours. Instead, what was gone was her healthy kidney—when a junior locum surgeon wrongly operated on it, in a surgery that lasted 45 minutes.

Pure human error

Recalling the incident, the 29-year-old patient said it was her consultant who discovered the medical blunder when he went into the operation theatre—while the doctors were in the process of finishing off the procedure. The locum doctor mentioned to the consultant that they could not find a stone in the right kidney, but completed the procedure anyway.

In a total shock, the consultant then stepped in to carry out the operation on the correct kidney. As a result, when the patient woke up from the operation, she found out that she ended up having the same operation done on both of her kidneys ‘due to a misunderstanding’.

Upon realising the blunder, Hodgson then decided to file a complaint with the hospital’s management. According to her, she was told by the management ‘to keep quiet’ on her case, while they undergo an investigation. She was also assured her that her healthy kidney has not been damaged and was discharged a few days after the operations.

After-effect of the human error

A couple of weeks after, Hodgson returned to the hospital to have the stent removed—and instead of feeling better, she started feeling pain on her right side—and kept getting bouts of sickness. After going through several tests, it has been discovered that she now suffers from low blood pressure—a direct sign that her kidneys are not functioning properly.

The lack of hospital action had led Hodgson to press charges and sue the hospital for the huge medical blunder that their doctors have committed. Due to this incident, the patient had to take time off to deal with the pain and trauma that she suffered.

A ‘never event’ that should not have happened

Dr Ian Reckless, the hospital’s medical director, said, “This is classified in the NHS as a wrong site surgery and as such was reported by the hospital as a ‘Never Event’.”

“Although the error was corrected at the time of surgery, this has clearly been a very distressing ordeal for Ms Hodgson, who spent more time in surgery and had a longer than expected hospital stay.” He also apologised to the patient for what she had to go through.

The locum doctor said in a hearing, which was held earlier this week, that he was feeling really tired on the day of the surgery as a result of overwork. A radiographer, who was present in the operation theatre, noticed the locum doctor had placed a scope in the right ureter; and asked him if both sides are now being checked. He claimed the doctor did not hear him and proceeded with what he was doing.

Milton Keynes Hospital is said to be investigating the matter internally to find out how something like this can happen and how it can be avoided in the future.

On her part, Lauren Hodgson said, “I've never had any major health concerns before all this and now that may not be the case. The least I want is an apology, but I would like them to recognise the effect, which this completely avoidable error, has had and could have on my life.” MIMS

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