Lawsuit: Florida surgeon removed woman’s kidney by mistake during back surgery

A Florida woman recently settled a medical malpractice lawsuit against a surgeon who removed her fully-functioning kidney during a 2016 spinal surgery.

Maureen Pacheco’s lawsuit against Dr. Ramon Vazquez was settled last month, according to Palm Beach County court records . The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Pacheco, a West Palm Beach resident, was 51 years old and suffering from back pain due to a car crash when she was scheduled to undergo anterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery in April 2016, the October 2017 lawsuit said. The surgery, which took place at Wellington Regional Medical Center, is described by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons as a “welding process,” in which problematic vertebrae in a person’s spine are fused together into one larger bone.

The term anterior meant that doctors would go in from Pacheco’s abdomen instead of her back. The academy explains on its website that an anterior procedure allows more direct access to the discs between the vertebrae, which are removed during the procedure, and offers a quicker recovery time.

Surgeons are also able to access the spine without moving nerves out of the way, but they have to move organs and blood vessels to the side to reach the spine, the website says .

Pacheco told WPTV in West Palm Beach there were no signs of what would go wrong when she prepared for the operation.

“There was no red flags or anything,” Pacheco told the news station .

Pacheco’s orthopedic surgeons that day were Dr. John Britt and Dr. Jeffrey Kugler, who was the treating physician. Vazquez, a general surgeon with staff privileges at the hospital, was assigned with opening the patient up and providing access to the surgical site so the other doctors could perform the fusion. An administrative complaint against Vazquez filed with the state medical board […]

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