Wrong Patient Surgery Costs Oakwood Hospital $21 Million
A jury has ordered Oakwood Hospital to pay $21 million to the family of a patient who died after the hospital mistakenly performed brain surgery on her instead of another patient. 81-year-old Bimla Nayyar was a patient at Oakwood Hospital in January 2012 for treatment of her temporomandibular joint. The hospital initially claimed they mistakenly believed Nayyar had bleeding in her brain and needed to have surgery right away. But two years later, they admitted they had mistakenly operated on the wrong patient.
During the surgery, Nayyar had five holes drilled into her skull and had the right side of her skull sawed out before the doctor realized nothing was wrong with her brain. The hospital reportedly never informed Nayyar’s family they had performed surgery on the wrong patient. The results of the surgery were devastating. Nayyar spent the next 60 days on life support and in great pain before passing away. Even after admitting they had operated on the wrong patient, Oakwood Hospital insisted they had done no harm to the patient.
Oakwood Hospital said in a statement, “We’re very concerned about how the details of this case have been portrayed,” and says they plan to appeal the verdict.
This isn’t the first time in recent history Oakwood hospital has been involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit. In 2010, the hospital and two of their doctors was sued by the family of a woman who said the hospital performed surgery on the wrong side of her brain, causing her to suffer severe brain damage and prevented her from being able to live independently until her death in December 2008.
Also in 2010, Oakwood Hospital was included in a class action medical malpractice suit alleging Dr. Yasser Awaad, the former head of pediatric neurology at Oakwood, was deliberately misdiagnosing children with epilepsy so he could implant pumps in patients’ brains to control seizures and prescribe other for his own financial gain. The suit claimed the hospital neglected to adequately monitor Awaad, even after other hospital employees voiced concerns over his work. The year prior to this suit being filed, the hospital paid over $300,000 to settle a Medicaid abuse investigation related to Awaad’s treatments. Although the hospital initially stood by Awaad, saying, “We have no reason to believe Dr. Awaad’s care and treatment resulted in any harm or injury during his tenure with Oakwood,” he was later fired. In 2012, Awaad was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and spend a year on supervised probation, but was allowed to keep his medical license.
Wrong patient and wrong site surgeries are a relatively rare type of medical mistake, representing about 0.5% of all medical mistakes, making them rarer than other types of medical errors. However, they are more common than published statistics would suggest since it isn’t always mandatory to report wrong site surgeries and many studies only include data from surgeries performed in operating rooms, not from operations performed in other places where mistakes are more commonly made.