A Massachusetts surgeon will be operating under supervision for the next five years because he removed the wrong organ.
Dr. Patrick M. McEnaney, 34, was an attending physician at Milford-Whitinsville Regional Hospital. He had started to remove an 84-year-old woman’s gallbladder in a laparoscopic procedure when he encountered “a significant amount of intraabdominal organ inflammation and bleeding,” according to documents in the case.
He converted to an open procedure and performed a cholangiogram. Although it showed he was not in any part of the biliary system, Dr. McEnaney misinterpreted the results. Believing he was in the duct of Luschka, he proceeded to remove the patient’s right kidney.
“By the time the kidney had been extracted, it was unrecognizable” because of inflammation, scalpel damage, and bleeding, the documents said. The hospital pathologist discovered the error a few days later. Ironically, the patient’s condition improved to the point that she has not needed gallbladder surgery since the incident.
Six months later, in December 2006, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine suspended Dr. McEnaney’s license, but stayed the suspension when he agreed to a five-year probation. It requires another surgeon to be present when he operates and to monitor his practice.
Dr. McEnaney had a previously unblemished record, and the probation decision was not unusual under the circumstances, said Russell Aims, a spokesman for the Board of Registration in Medicine. “The truth of the matter is that medical errors do occur,” Aims told the local newspaper. “Oftentimes, it doesn’t do anybody any good to remove a physician from practice if he is otherwise a good physician.”