A Florida surgeon has agreed to pay a $3,000 fine, as well as perform hours of continued medical training, after removing a woman’s kidney during what was intended to be back surgery.
According to court records, Maureen Pacheco, who checked into Florida’s Wellington Regional Medical Center in April 2016 to have a few vertebra in her lower back fused together, was not consulted about the change of plans, the Washington Post reported.
However, during the back procedure, surgeon Ramon Vazquez mistook her kidney for a cancerous tumor in Pacheco’s pelvis and cut it out, according to the Palm Beach Post, citing a lawsuit that had been settled in September.
A pathologist at the hospital confirmed that the tumor was actually a pelvic kidney, the Palm Beach Post reported. Pelvic kidneys refer to organs that failed “to ascend to their normal position above the waist” during fetal development, ” according to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
In addition to the $3,000 fine, Vasquez has also agreed to complete 3 hours of continuing medical edition in how to evaluate pre-operative spinal surgical patients, as well as five hours of risk management training, according to a court documents filed by the Florida Board of Medicine on Dec. 27.
Vasquez has also agreed to perform a one-hour lecture regarding wrong-site surgery “to the entire medical staff of the hospital” where he maintains staff privileges, according to the documents.
Additionally the surgeon will pay the $4,817.90 in costs the Florida Department of Health incurred while investigating and prosecuting the case.
Prior to reaching the final agreement, the Florida Board of Medicine initially rejected a settlement that carried only a $1,500 fine, according to the Palm Beach Post.
In a statement, the surgeon’s attorney, Michael Burt told the Palm Beach Post, “Dr. Vazquez is an excellent surgeon who has been providing exemplary, often life-saving services in our community for many years. In this instance he, in collaboration with other members of the surgical team, exercised professional judgement.”
Vazquez’s attorney also told the outlet that the lawsuit “was settled on his behalf for a nominal amount,” adding that his client did not “admit liability by agreeing to this settlement.”
According to a health complaint filed by the Florida Health Department in December, the “unauthorized procedure” was “medically unnecessary” as it was “unrelated” to the lumbar fusion Pacheco was scheduled to receive that day.
The complaint also claimed that Vazquez made a “presumptive diagnosis” and did not perform a “biopsy of the mass…given the potential malignancy.”
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According to the lawsuit, Vazquez — who had no prior record of discipline on file with the state’s Board of Medicine — was not consulted about the two MRIs that had been performed ahead of the procedure, in which the kidney could be clearly seen, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Prior to agreeing to the final order, Vazquez told the Florida Board of Medicine on Dec. 7 that while Pacheco’s test results were not available to him at the time of her surgery, he now makes sure he reviews all films of patients, according to the outlet.