A Florida doctor is facing losing his license to practice medicine after he mistakenly removed a perfectly healthy kidney from a back-surgery patient because he thought it was a cancerous mass.
According to the Palm Beach Post, Maureen Pacheco entered Wellington Regional Medical Center on April 29, 2016, to get bones in her lower back fused following a car accident. When she woke up from surgery she found out that an assisting surgeon had removed one of her kidneys while she was under sedation — giving her no choice in the matter.
The report states that Pacheco first met with Dr. Ramon Vazquez shortly before the operation, with Vazquez only scheduled to make the initial incision as orthopedic surgeons stood by to do the back surgery.
After opening Pacheco up, Vazquez identified one of her kidneys as what he thought was a cancerous mass and chose to remove it, only to discover afterward that he had removed a vital organ.
“As you can imagine, when someone goes in for a back surgery, she would never expect to wake up and be told when she’s just waking up from anesthesia, that one of her kidneys has been unnecessarily removed,” said Pacheco’s attorney, Donald J. Ward.
The report states that two MRIs were performed prior to surgery that clearly showed the kidney was in Pacheco’s pelvic region, however, Vazquez failed to review the MRI.
According to Vazquez’s attorney, Wellington Regional is at fault for failing to inform the surgeon that the patient had a pelvic kidney.
Vazquez’s medical career is now imperiled as the former chief of surgery at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center is facing a state medical board inquiry that could result in anything from a fine to having his medical license pulled.
While Pacheco’s primary surgeons settled with their patient for $250,000 apiece, Vazquez settled for an undisclosed amount, his attorney explained.
“The case was settled on his behalf for a nominal amount due to the uncertainty of litigation and in no way did Dr. Vazquez admit liability by agreeing to this settlement,” Vazquez’s attorney Mark Mittelmark stated in an email.
According to the Health Department, Vazquez — who had a previously spotless record — did not have malpractice insurance.