kidney transplanted into wrong patient

Certain types of medical errors stand out in patients’ minds as particularly disturbing. Near the top of the list would have to be amputating the wrong limb or transplanting the wrong organ. Early this year, a patient had a very close call when she received a transplant of the correct type of organ – a kidney – but later discovered that it was a kidney intended for another patient. The kidney had not been confirmed to be an appropriate match before it was transplanted into the woman who received it.

Very luckily, this particular kidney happened to be compatible with the woman’s immune system, and she did not develop any complications. Nonetheless, the university hospital that performed the transplant voluntarily shut down its busy transplant program in order to assess how the error could have taken place.

Apparently the mix-up took place when two kidneys from separate donors arrived at the hospital at almost the same time.

The head of the transplant program announced this week that the error in the verification system for organs had been corrected. “We put together an iron-clad correction plan,” she said, “and I really feel this will never happen again.”

The hospital plans to restart kidney transplants immediately, now that the new safeguards are in place.

Initial reports had said that the woman who received the wrong kidney got another transplant with a correct kidney right away. This proved to be untrue. The patient is doing fine, since the kidney she got is compatible with her immune system, but she is still on the hospital’s waiting list for a new kidney.

Although the patient in this case was lucky, Pennsylvania hospital negligence attorneys know that many victims of preventable medical mistakes and their families suffer life-altering consequences. If verification procedures are not in place or if they are not followed, patients are put at risk of death or injury from serious mistakes such as medication errors, diagnosis errors or transplant errors.

Source: L.A. Times “USC official explains how wrong patient received kidney, says new procedures are in place” 4/5/2011

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