Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest has been named as the defendant in a lawsuit led by a man who claims to have suffered major complications after a hernia operation. The man’s surgery was to correct a bilateral inguinal hernia he had been diagnosed with in May 2011.
Medical Mistakes Often Occur and Can Cost Patient Lives
In a 2013 issue of the Journal of Patient Safety, a study claimed that between 210,000 and 440,000 patients suffer preventable harm each year in American hospitals, contributing to their death. This statistic, if correct, would position medical mistakes as the third leading cause of death for Americans. Heart disease is the leading cause, with cancer at second place.
Medical mistakes are called “adverse events” by hospitals. Four recent studies investigated these adverse effects using the Global Trigger Tool that assesses information from medical records. The tool searches for signs of medical mistakes. A doctor then examines the patient records and determines whether provider error led to the patient’s death.
These four studies focused upon 4200 patients treated in a six year period through 2008. Adverse events were blamed for 21 percent of patient problems after treatment. Death of 1.4 percent of patients was blamed on medical mistakes. Extrapolation of these findings across 34 million patient hospitalizations per year means that such errors lead to the death of about 210,000 hospitalized patients annually.
Medical Mistake Leading to a Giant Scrotum and Lost Testicles
When the patient suing Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest sought help for his hernia, he did not expect to be one of so many Americans harmed as part of treatment each year. No patient does. The man and his wife certainly had no idea his testicles would eventually be sacrificed for his treatment. After his hernia surgery, his scrotum swelled to 80 pounds.
The man has claimed that his hernia pain started in his testicle in 2011. He went to Kaiser and was diagnosed with a bilateral inguinal hernia. A few months later, his hernia operation was conducted.
After the surgery the man experienced “significant testicle and scrotal pain and swelling, his scrotum at one point swelling to 80 pounds and over 48 [inches] in diameter,” according to the complaint.
For three years until 2014, the patient returned to Kaiser to seek help for his subsequent problem. He claims he was never provided with any type of assistance or treatment for his swollen testicle. He finally went to another doctor who referred him to a specialist. That specialist conducted corrective surgery, resulting in removal of his testicles. The patient and his wife cannot have their own children now, due to this sterilization.
Because of this malpractice and loss of ability to procreate, the couple is seeking over $1 million in damages and lost wages. Kaiser is being blamed for failure to adequately diagnose and treat the man’s condition, as well as failure to refer him to a doctor who would help him. The patient is also claiming emotional distress.