Have a Story to Tell? Had a medical error?

This blog is about patient safety, medical malpractice, staying healthy, and preventing future errors. Help & empower someone else, Teach a lesson, Bear witness, Build our community - Email us or call 781-444-5525.

Frustrated with a health problem?

Need an ally in your health crisis? Call 781-444-5525, or learn more.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Where his Gall toward Eisenhower Came From: A surgical error

Sometimes surgical errors change people's lives in odd ways. Indeed, sometimes the lives of many people are affected--though we don't learn about it for quite a long time. One example appeared in this month's Atlantic magazine, 50 years after the fact.

Anthony Eden, the long-time Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, underwent an operation to remove his gall bladder, and the surgery was botched. For the rest of his life he was plagued by the after-effects; he needed four later operations to undo the damage.

During a crisis in the Middle East in 1956, Britain reasserted its colonial interests in the Suez Canal, joining France and Israel in fighting the Egyptians. Pres. Eisenhower tried to get Eden and the British to withdraw. Angrily Eisenhower demanded in a phone call, "Have you gone out of your mind?!" The answer in the Atlantic article: "Probably yes: Eden had undergone a botched operation which had nicked his bile duct and was suffering from what might politely have been called 'stress.'" In describing the ill effects of the earlier surgery, one of Eden's later surgeons wrote that Eden had a fever of 106 degrees at the time, and concluded that he was subject to recurrent fevers and postoperative disability at important times in his career and during international crises. The surgical error that had occurrred in 1953 apparently affected the lives of British, French, Israeli, and Egyptian soldiers, and their families, three years later.

Read another story of a surgical error affecting a famous ruler or read Christopher Hitchens' article, "Imperial Follies," Atlantic, January/February 2007.

No comments: