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Friday, April 6, 2007

I didn't actually read it: Wrong site surgical error

Benjamin Houghton had much to be happy about. He was a father of four. He had survived metastatic testicular cancer, having received chemotherapy in 1989. He knew he could function normally with a single healthy testicle.

While there was no sign of the cancer’s recurrence, his left testicle was atrophied and painful, and there was a chance that it could harbor cancer cells, so he had surgery,, though it was not urgent. Surgeons mistakenly removed his healthy right testicle instead of the left, according to his lawsuit.

On the day of his surgery, the consent form stated that his right one should be removed, and a vasectomy performed on the left, when it should have read exactly the opposite. Benjamin didn’t have his glasses on. He explained, "The surgeon said, 'This is what we talked about before. Just sign here and here.' I didn’t actually read it." Benjamin, an Air Force veteran, did as the doctor ordered.

Lacking the testosterone from the healthy testicle, he may have future complications like sexual dysfunction, depression, fatigue, weight gain, and osteoporosis. He is suing for $200,000 for future healthcare costs and damages, hoping to get the healthcare system's attention, according to Attorney Susan Friery, MD.

Advice to surgical patients: Read the consent form carefully.

Read another veteran’s story, or read Mary Engel’s source story in the L.A. Times.

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