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Sister dies in kidney transplant when hospital ignores warnings

No patient in Troy can know of every single warning, precaution or safety issue that is associated with a procedure when he or she goes in for surgery. It is up to his or her doctor and the hospital to keep track of what equipment can be used when and what medications will react poorly with each other. When a doctor fails to do this in a surgery, it can easily lead to serious surgical errors and sometimes death.

Unfortunately, that is what happened to a sister who died while giving her brother one of her kidneys. She was a live organ donor and had just woken up from the laparoscopic surgery when she collapsed and fell back onto her hospital bed. Surgeons brought her back to the operating room and found a large pool of blood in her abdomen. They were unable to save her.

When the woman's family members found out that the surgeon had used a surgical clip on the end of the woman's renal artery, they filed a medical malpractice claim against the hospital. Though surgical clips are an effective way to close arteries in other surgeries, there has been tremendous evidence that they should not be used in laparoscopic kidney surgeries. The manufacturer of the clips had even mailed letters to hospitals across the country warning against using the clips for kidney donors.

The woman's hospital said that they received the letter before they started using the clips and by the time they did start using them, they had forgotten about the letter. Though the manufacturer has informed hospitals that the clips should not be used with kidney donations, there are no labels on the actual clips that warn surgeons. Moreover, the warnings themselves don't tell surgeons that at least five people have died from the clips slipping off the renal artery.

New Yorkers should feel safe when they go in for a surgery. They should be confident that their physician will not commit any surgical errors because he or she failed to keep updated on the equipment used in the procedure.

Source: CNN, "Kidney-donor deaths linked to surgical clips raise issues of alerts, warnings," John Bonifield and Elizabeth Cohen, June 21, 2012

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