Medical malpractice may occur more often than you think. On a daily basis, it seems like I come across new cases where a doctor’s carelessness leads to harm or injury of a patient. You would think that doctors would be more careful since they deal with the health and lives of other human beings. Here is a real-life example of how a routine surgical procedure took an extreme turn, in the wrong direction, after a surgeon’s careless mistake.
“Edward” and his fiancée, “Iris”, were having difficulty conceiving, so they went to see doctors specializing in fertility. Edward was told that he had a low sperm count due to a varicocele. (An enlarged and twisted vein in his reproductive area that inhibits the body’s ability to produce sperm due to a reduced blood supply.)
Edward was sent to a surgeon for a varicocelectomy, an operation in which the twisted part of the vein is cut out. When Edward was asked to sign a consent form before the procedure, he signed it without thinking anything of it.
The procedure took about 45 minutes. Afterwards, Edward was resting when the doctor came in, and explained that there had been a mistake. Due to a mix up, he performed a vasectomy instead. Edward asked the surgeon, “What’s the difference?” The difference, the doctor explained, is that a vasectomy cuts off sperm supply! Devastated, Edward was sent to have his vasectomy reversed, a complex 7-hour procedure. He was advised that once his reproductive function was restored, the varicocelectomy, the procedure he needed initially, would have to be postponed.
Worse yet, an expert doctor reviewed Edward’s test results, and determined that that all of this was for nothing. Despite the twisted vein, the reason for the original procedure, Edward’s testes were actually producing sperm that were extremely unlikely to lead to conception in any event. A varicocelectomy would not have improved the chances of Edward and Iris conceiving a child.
Sadly there is no treatment for the type of testicular failure Edward really had.
Edward filed a medical malpractice claim against his physicians.
The lawyers defending the doctors pointed to the consent form Edward signed. They argued that the form indicated Edward knowingly agreed to a vasectomy. Of course, Edward never intended to have this procedure, and assumed that the form he signed before the procedure was to authorize the varicocelectomy. The arguments of the doctor’s lawyers made no sense: Why would Edward have agreed to a vasectomy if he were going in for a procedure to increase his fertility? After all, a vasectomy inhibits conception!
Edward’s case continues. He seeks money damages for the unnecessary surgeries and procedures, and the associated pain and suffering.