Botched surgery: Doctors took out the wrong organ from a Washington man

Originally published at: Oops! Surgeons remove wrong organ

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Yeah, that’s called septic abdomen, which means this surgery was botched more than just removal of the wrong part of the lower intestine. It means the closure of the bowel was incomplete or weak. They easily could have killed him.

It makes me wonder if one of the surgeons is a fellow and the other is the attending. During training, sometimes a sufficiently advanced fellow (student) will scrub in and the attending won’t, which means they aren’t able to as closely monitor the procedure. UW is a teaching hospital and most procedures are performed at least partially by fellows.


This should not be possible. Even if it was a fellow, that’s someone who has already had 4 years of med school and 5 years of surgical residency. If you can’t find the appendix right off, you locate the cecum and it is at the distal pole. You don’t just cut out something and leave a leaky suture line to cause peritonitis. I am baffled how this big a screwup could have occured, but apparently it did. Some heads are gonna role. Surgeons do not take kindly to peons making them look bad!


You can check your anatomy all you want, and even though there may be normal variation, when it comes right down to it, this far inside the head abdomen it all looks the same. No, no, no, don’t tug on that. You never know what it might be attached to.


You are entirely correct. This sort of error can easily kill.

As someone whose appendix was not so much surgically removed as “scraped out” (surgeon’s description - mere hours away from full-blown pertionitis, apparently) AND as someone who has subsequently had two bowel resections (and temporary stomas) at the same part of the bowel (nothing to do with the appendix thing) - one of which did show some small amount of bleeding before it ‘sealed’ - this story fills me with horror.

How a surgeon can not find an appendix AND also leave a perforated/unclosed bowel is beyond me and does speak very much to a lack of both competence and supervision, as you and @docosc imply.


How hard can it be?



Yeah, I had mine scooped out by one of the hospital’s porters with a grapefruit spoon.

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“It’s a good thing I took out his appendix when I did. Look at the size of it!”
“Um, doctor, that’s his liver.”


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