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Transplant errors often prompt programs to close for reassessment

Last week we wrote about a botched kidney transplant that shut down a hospital's transplant program. While many may think that an incident like this one is rare, surgical errors and other transplant-related problems have resulted in the closing of transplant programs in hospitals and medical centers throughout the country. Although the health care facilities voluntarily withdrew from the transplant program, surgical errors occurring during these important procedures is concerning.

In May 2011, a mistake occurred in Pittsburgh after a patient developed Hepatitis C after the patient received a kidney transplant. A negligent surgeon and a negligent operating room staff nurse were disciplined after the incident.

After the death rate for organ transplants became higher than average, a New Jersey hospital voluntarily transferred patients on the organ donation list to other area hospitals. Similarly, a hospital in Kansas chose to voluntarily suspend its own kidney transplant program after four patients died within three weeks of each other after they received a kidney transplant.

Finally, as we discussed last week, the most recent incident regarding a mistake during an organ transplant occurred in Ohio. A nurse mistakenly disposed of an organ that was extracted from a living donor that was intended for his older sister. The incident resulted in two operating room nurses being placed on administrative leave.

As we can see from these examples, transplant errors happen more often that we may have thought. When hospitals close down their transplant centers, they generally do so to get to the bottom of the error that happened and hopefully prevent it from happening in the future. While it is certain a welcomed act when hospitals choose reassess a program that may have hosted errors in the past, those who have been injured due to surgical errors or other forms of medical malpractice should know that they may be able to file a lawsuit to seek compensation for their injuries.

Source: Toledoblade.com, "Halting transplants not uncommon: Mistakes, deaths have closed hospital programs across the U.S.," Mark Reiter," Aug. 24, 2012.

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