Patient demands $166,000 after surgeons operate on wrong leg

‘I got the shock of my life,’ says man, who will likely need to undergo more surgery after blunder by Assuta Medical Center in Ashdod

Illustrative: A medical team performs surgery in a modern operating room. (gorodenkoff; iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative: A medical team performs surgery in a modern operating room. (gorodenkoff; iStock by Getty Images)

It’s the ultimate nightmare when waking up from surgery: Finding out after the fact that doctors made a mistake and operated on a healthy part of the body.

That’s what happened to a 55-year-old Israeli man several months ago, who found out that surgeons at Assuta Kalaniot Medical Center in Ashdod had operated on his right leg instead of his left.

Some six months ago, the man injured his left knee in a work accident, the Mako news website reported Thursday, without identifying him by name.

He underwent an MRI test and an Assuta doctor recommended surgery. But when he woke up after the operation, he received what he described as “the shock of my life.”

“How does such a blunder happen? They had all the documents and it was clear they had to operate on the left leg,” he told Mako.

As a result, the patient went through a rehabilitation process but still suffers from pain and will likely need to undergo additional surgery.

He is now threatening to sue the medical center, demanding NIS 575,000 ($166,000).

“This isn’t a Third World country,” his lawyer, Anat Ginzburg, told Mako. “This is a case of severe medical negligence that has no place in Israel and cannot pass in silence.”

The Assuta team admitted that the man had immediately said the wrong leg had been operated on, but said that the anesthetist wrote in the medical file that he had spoken with the patient before the surgery and “he agreed the operation is on the right leg.”

The patient says he never received a medical document from the surgeons before the operation, and says the medical team was expressly told to operate on the left leg.

Assuta commented to Mako that it had received the patient’s letter and “will respond accordingly vis-a-vis the patient’s representative.”

Assuta is a network of private hospitals and medical centers that belongs to Maccabi, one of Israel’s four health funds.

A different Assuta center,  Assuta Hospital Rishon Lezion, was recently embroiled in a widely publicized case of medical negligence in which the wrong embryo was implanted in a woman’s womb.

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