Patient says surgeons removed section of seventh rib instead of eighth
Yale hospital admits "an error was made"
Lawsuit accuses surgeon of trying to cover up the mistake
A patient has filed a lawsuit against Yale New Haven Hospital for allegedly removing part of the wrong rib during surgery and then trying to cover up the mistake.
Deborah Craven, 60, had surgery last year to remove part of her eighth rib because of a precancerous lesion – but instead, doctors removed part of her seventh rib, according to the complaint filed in Connecticut Superior Court. She had to undergo a second surgery to remove the correct portion, the complaint said.
“We recognized that an error was made, we informed and apologized to the patient, and we immediately reported it to the Connecticut Department of Health,” according to the statement Yale issued last week.
But Craven’s lawyer said she never received such an apology and said one of her surgeons tried to cover up the mistake.
The mistake was discovered when Craven complained of pain after her surgery on May 18. An X-ray was performed, and Dr. Anthony Kim, an assistant professor of surgery at Yale, informed Craven and her husband that the wrong rib had been removed, according to Craven’s lawyer, Joel Faxon.
But Faxon said that five minutes later, Dr. Ricardo Quarrie told the couple something very different.
According to the complaint, Quarrie told the couple that the surgeons “had not removed enough rib during the surgery and, for that reason, she would need to undergo another surgery.”
“Making the patient undergo another surgery the same day, without owning up to the real medical reason for the repeat surgery is just plain deceitful,” Faxon wrote in a press release. Quarrie is described in an exhibit to the complaint as being a “resident/fellow” at Yale.
The Cravens specifically requested that Quarrie not be involved in the second surgery, but medical records show that he was, Faxon said.
In an email, Quarrie declined to comment.
In its statement, Yale added that the hospital is “committed to providing the safest and highest quality of care possible. However, even in the best organizations medical errors may occur. When they do, our goal is to acknowledge them, learn from them, and ensure that we minimize any chance that they ever occur again.”
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The lawsuit also says that the Yale surgeons should have known they were operating on the wrong rib, as the correct rib had been marked before surgery with metal coils and dye.
Immediately after the surgery, the surgeons should have realized their mistake because they hadn’t removed the marking coils, according to the complaint, which also accuses the surgeons of failing to do an X-ray after the procedure to make sure it had been done correctly.