Woman undergoes heart surgery by mistake

Anciana recibe cirugía por errorAn 83-year-old woman underwent heart surgery by mistake when a surgeon confused her for another patient. Rita du Plessis was being treated for a respiratory infection and got more than she bargained for at the Mediclinic Kimberley in Johannesburg, South Africa. Du Plessis and another elderly patient were mixed up after the doctor treating both women gave in the wrong name to the surgeon.


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Because she wasn't able to give the go-ahead for the procedure herself, the surgeon contact Du Pleiss' husband for permission. The physician later realized the grave mistake when he went looking for Du Pleiss and was told she was undergoing surgery to remove excessive moisture around her heart. I think I would've turned in my license to practice medicine at that point. The physician apologized to the family as did the surgeon, but not before he'd called in to tell them the procedure was a success. ¡Pero ni modo! There was nothing wrong with her heart in the first place!

If I were this woman's family member, I'd be furious. How are you going to put an 83-year-old woman through such a risk and then just say, "Oops, sowwy!" I mean don't they double and triple check these things and have various personnel verify every patient going under the knife? I know when I have to undergo any procedure, every single hand that touches me asks me my name, address, date of birth and what I'm getting done. It seems that Du Plessis was not in a condition to advocate for herself or be aware of what was happening around her, but it seems a bit lazy to phone in for permission for a heart operation.

The hospital didn't charge them for the trouble, but I certainly hope the Du Plessis family sues the pants off those doctors and that the other elderly patient promptly had her own heart fixed and switched to more competent doctors.

Image via Corbis

Topics: aging  health  health care