Florida Doctor Fined $5,000 for Wrong-Site Surgery

A Florida doctor is facing a $5,000 fine for removing the wrong organ from a patient. Dr. Bernard Zaragoza of Coral Springs removed a healthy kidney rather than the gallbladder that he had intended to remove. The Harvard-trained doctor says he made a mistake in thinking that the kidney was the gallbladder during a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The Florida Board of Medicine levied the fine. In addition to the fine, Dr. Zaragoza will have to serve 50 hours of community service and has to pay the state $25,000 for the investigation it launched into the medical error which occurred in October 2007 in Margate, Florida at Northwest Medical Center.

The medical board ruled that this was an error and a violation of the Florida Medical Practice Act even though the patient, an 83-year-old man, did have an unusual anatomy with the kidney located where his gallbladder should have been.

The patient died of heart failure three weeks later. The board members felt that the surgeon was a capable professional, who was not inept or careless, despite the error.

Dr. Zaragoza is a summa cum laude graduate of University of Miami and earned his medical degree from Harvard. He did his five-year residency at New York Medical College’s Westchester County Medical Center and is board-certified in general surgery, according to Health News Florida.

Hospital errors take an estimated 98,000 lives a year. When patients sue doctors and hospitals, the first response from the business community it to cap any damages the injured may receive. That just adds insult to injury. It would be far better to eliminate the medical error in the first place.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to a medical error, there are many things to consider, as this story highlights. A consultation with a Jacksonville medical malpractice lawyer may provide you with the information you need to decide how to proceed. A consultation is always comprehensive and complimentary.