Hospital faces malpractice claim after throwing out donor kidney

The wait for an organ transplant can be an agonizing one for the patient and their family. New Yorkers may wait on the transplant list for months and even years without knowing whether the life-saving operation will occur in time. A family had a very emotional experience when a hospital mistakenly threw out a perfectly healthy donor kidney before it could be transplanted into the patient.

In this case, a brother donated one of his kidneys to his sister who was in end-state renal failure. Before the kidney could be transplanted, a nurse accidentally disposed of the kidney. Upon discovering the medical error, the medical staff tried, unsuccessfully, to resuscitate the kidney. The patient endured months of dialysis and four surgeries before the hospital was able to locate another kidney for the patient.

After the incident, the hospital's live donor program was temporarily suspended. The nurse who was responsible for discarding the kidney quit and other members of the surgical team were fired or put on paid administrative leave. The patient, her parents and her siblings are suing the hospital for damages, including pain and suffering, arising out of the hospital's negligence. In defending itself, the hospital acknowledges its mistake but claims that they did not offer substandard care to the patient or the kidney donor.

Medical mistakes happen every day in hospitals around the country. These mistakes range from serious breaches of accepted medical standards to simple carelessness. In order to improve healthcare practices and procedures, hospitals and medical personnel should be held accountable for their errors. Patients and their families who have been damaged as a result of medical malpractice or negligence may be able to pursue a legal claim against the responsible parties. Attorneys may be able to pursue compensation for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering and loss of companionship.

Source: ABC News, "Toledo Hospital Threw Out Donor Kidney, Now Denies Negligence", Susan Donaldson James, August 29, 2013

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