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Family Undecided about Lawsuit over Wasted Kidney

Posted on November 27th, 2012

A patient awaiting a kidney transplant will have to wait longer than expected due to a medical staff person’s mistake. To make matters worse, her brother, the donor, is now without a kidney himself, since this mistake was made after the kidney was removed. This unusual medical error happened at the University of Toledo Medical Center in Ohio. The family is currently undecided about whether or not litigation is worth what they may receive for compensation.

The recipient’s brother’s surgery went without incident. Dr. Michael Rees, one of two surgeons at UTMC who performs kidney transplants, had finished the surgery on the donor to remove the kidney, attempted to take the kidney to the next surgery, and discovered it was missing. He had literally said the first procedure was “a good case,” congratulated everyone, went to the slush machine where the kidney was being stored, and froze. The kidney was already gone.

The problem had apparently started as a miscommunication between two nurses. Melanie Lemay had neglected to inform Judith Moore about how the surgery went while Ms. Moore was on her lunch break, and had apparently broken procedure in several other ways when Ms. Moore relieved her.

Ms. Moore, unaware that the kidney was due to be transplanted, disposed of it with the rest of the medical waste from the surgery. By the time this error was uncovered and the kidney was retrieved, it had already been contaminated and was unfit to transplant. Both nurses were subsequently fired, and Dr. Rees, while still employed at UTMC, lost his director’s title.

Now the family has to decide whether or not to proceed with litigation. They have to consider that the UTMC is a state institution, which would put the suit before the Ohio Court of Claims instead of a jury. Then the judge would have to decide that the hospital does not have immunity as a state institution.

Then there is the question of if the award would be worth the time and money to enter litigation. The family’s losses were not financial, and no one died as a result.  Thanks to state caps in medical malpractice awards, the most the family can expect to win is $500,000 if they can prove extreme physical injury, otherwise the award would be capped at $250,000.

Having these kinds of complex considerations demands immediate free consultation with a medical malpractice attorney, such as one of ours here at Snyder and Snyder. There is no reason anyone should have to decide if a lawsuit is worth pursuing without advice from a lawyer.

Resource: http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2012/10/07/Failed-kidney-transplant-at-UTMC-prompts-new-safeguards.html