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Woman dies after surgeon uses wrong dye in spine

Mistakes made in the medical field in Fulton County, Georgia can have devastating and even deadly results. Researchers have identified an area of medical malpractice that is known as “cognitive bias.” This term refers to doctors, nurses and other health professionals who make mistakes reading medical charts and labels on medications. These mistakes are done because healthcare workers see what they expect to see instead of what is actual there.

This seems to be the case for a medical mistake that led to the death of a 74-year-old woman. The woman was undergoing a short procedure aimed at relieving her symptoms caused from a back injury. She was injured when she fell in her home and broke several vertebrae. Although she had surgery to fuse her bones and ease her pain, she began to have leg spasms in the weeks after the surgery. A doctor recommended that she undergo another surgery to implant a pump underneath her skin that would deliver medication directly to her spine to help with her pain.

While she was in surgery, her doctor asked for a special dye to be used in the procedure. The pharmacy did not have it, but substituted a different one. After checking the label, the surgeon inject it twice. He had evidently missed the warning on the dye’s label that said it was not to be used inside the spine. The woman came out of anesthesia with severe pain and seizures and died the next day.

The woman’s two sons have filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and healthcare professions who were involved with the woman’s care. Hopefully their suit will enable them to be properly compensated for the death of their mother.

Source: The Boston Globe, “Surgical error at Tufts prompts widespread changes,” Liz Kowalczyk, Aug. 31, 2014

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