Colorectal Surgeon Removes Incorrect Portion of Bowel

bowelThis case involved a thirty-five-year-old male requiring partial colectomy. The individual required partial removal of the descending (left-sided) colon due to inflammation associated with his ulcerative colitis. The individual still had abdominal pain, bloody stools, and general malaise months after recovering from surgery. He was mostly complaining of left lower quadrant abdominal pain. After examining the pathology report, it was found that the tissue taken during surgery was not inflamed and was consistent with ascending (right-sided) colon histologic features. The surgeon removed the inappropriate portion of the patient’s colon, which required additional surgery.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. In what ways could this occurrence have been prevented, and what is the standard of care in these types of situations?

Expert Witness Response

During every surgery the organ(s) side (right or left), as well as other information about the patient, is confirmed by the surgical team. Failure to do so can lead to medical errors ranging from inappropriate medication doses, to operations on inappropriate organs, and further damage to the patient. Before surgery, the surgeon should mark the area he is operating on with a pen. The patient’s chart should be thoroughly reviewed so that all information and actions are consistent. Long-term complications include strictures, bleeding, and infections.


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