Top 15 Truly Shocking Hospital Mistakes
“Invasion of the Canadian Body Snatchers”: David Tait and Leon Swanson are
two close friends who were born three days apart at the Norway House Hospital in Manitoba
As it turns out, they share a lot more in common than just a close bond.
A DNA test revealed that David belonged to Leon’s mother and vice versa.
Somehow, the two had accidentally been switched at birth and did not discover the mistake
until they were in their early 40s.
For the past four decades, they were raised by each other’s parents.
Amazingly, this is the second case where the Norway House Hospital has sent the wrong newborn
home with parents.
Another two people have been identified as being switched at around the same time, and
an ongoing investigation is looking at other possible instances, too.
“Gone, but Not Forgotten”: The University of Washington Medical Center does a pretty
good job with their surgeries . . . until they get to the very end.
That’s when they sometimes forget to clean up after themselves.
Just ask Donald Church.
In 2000 he was 49-years-old when he had a 13-pound tumor removed from his stomach.
Shortly afterwards, the man felt excruciating [“ex-screw-she-ate-ting”] pain all throughout
the day and night.
The pain would start in his abdomen and then move to his chest as the week went on.
It was so bad that he would often lay on the floor a cry.
He tried to go back to his job as a janitor and live life as best he could.
When he went to get a monthly examination, the University of Washington Medical Center
surgeons said that his traveling pains were normal.
As it turns out, they were absolutely wrong.
A surgeon Dr. David Byrd had accidentally left a thin medical device called a retractor
[“re-tract-ter”] inside of him.
This metal object kind of resembles a ruler; it’s about 2 inches wide and it’s used
during the las step to protect organs from the needle while they are closing up the wound.
By the time they had finally figured out their mistake, nearly two full months of sheer agony
He has since received a 100 thousand dollar settlement from the University of Washington.
Prior to this case, at least four other patients at the same hospital have had surgical instruments
accidentally left inside of them.
“The Waiting Tomb”: A 49-year-old woman with paranoid schizophrenia [“skits-zo-fren-knee-ah”] named Esmin [“Ehz-min”] Green is waiting for admission in the Kings County Hospital
Center in Brooklyn [“Brook-lin”].
She was taken to the hospital against her will after paramedic technicians found her
in the middle of a psychotic breakdown.
They were only trying to help her at the time by committing her, but little did they know
that this decision would result in her death.
When she gets to the hospital, the staff lets Esmin sit in the waiting room for a full 24
hours until finally she collapses out her chair at 5:30 in the morning.
Amazingly, medical workers continue to walk right by her, paying absolutely no attention
to the body that’s lying face down on the floor and in obvious need of help.
A nurse finally takes her pulse one hour later.
She doesn’t find one.
The Kings County Hospital had let Esmin Green sit in the hospital for so long that she died
of blood clots.
This can happen from long periods of inactivity.
The blood clots had started in her legs and traveled all the way up her body until they
reached her lungs.
The city of New York accepted full responsibility for her death and paid 2 million dollars to
“Urine Trouble”: When 14-year-old Christina Atkin [“At-kin”] started to feel seriously
ill, her mother took her to the BeeBee [“Be-be”] Hospital in Lewes, Delaware [“Louis” “Del-lah-where”].
Since they weren’t exactly sure what was wrong, the nurse asked the high school freshman
to take a small cup to the bathroom for a urine sample.
It would be the last thing she ever did.
From inside of the bathroom, Christina’s body hit the floor loud enough to stop everyone
who heard it.
They rushed to open the door, but it’s been locked.
They went to get the keys at the nurse’s station, but they weren’t there.
A janitor ran deeper into the hospital to find a spare set.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the door, Christina’s terrified mother listens to
her daughter’s labored [“lay-bored”] breathing as she slips into cardiac arrest
on the bathroom floor.
The janitor returns empty-handed.
Nobody knows where the spare set is.
The staff is using pens, paper clips and pins to try and pick the lock, but to no avail.
At this point, Christina’s mother is sickened by the staff’s incompetence [“in-com-pet-tence”] and is calling for someone to dial 911, completely aware that she is already in the waiting room
of a hospital.
A full ten minutes pass before a security guard is able to get the door open.
When the mother sees Christina, she says that her daughter’s eyes were looking straight
She was airlifted to another hospital and dies two days later of toxic shock.
The ten minutes that the BeeBee Hospital staff spent fumbling with the door could have very
well ended her life.
They have since settled out of court for an unknown sum.
“The Wrong Button”: When Arsula [“Erse-sul-lah”] Samson went to the Good Hope Hospital in Birmingham
[“Bur-ming-ham”], England, the doctors found she had a simple case of pneumonia [“ya-moan-ya”].
She was hooked up to a bag of potassium chloride [“po-tass-see-um” “clor-ride”] to
help her fight the lung infection.
Sounds simple enough, right?
Well, the nurse was supposed to give him 10 milliliters [“milly-liters”] over a course
of 5 hours.
Instead, she accidentally hits the wrong button and pumps Arsula full of 100 milliliters of
potassium chloride over the course of 1 hour – five times the normal dosage.
Overdose symptoms from potassium chloride include feeling a heaviness in your limbs,
confusion, seizures, and a slowed heartbeat.
While it’s impossible to know how many of these symptoms Arsula felt, she had nonetheless
died of heart problems by the time she was checked on again.
The first nurse was supposed to have been watched by a second nurse to prevent this
“Close Enough”: If you are ever unfortunate enough to ever need brain surgery, you might
not want to go to the Rhode [“Road”] Island hospital.
That’s because they just can’t seem to stop doing brain surgeries on the wrong area
of their patient’s heads.
In fact, they managed to make this same general mistake three times in 2007.
In February of that year, a Rhode Island hospital neurosurgeon [“nure-ro-sur-gin”] and a
nurse are busy working on a patient when they released that they’ve made a terrible mistake.
The medical device they’re installing is called a drain, and it’s meant to remove
excess blood from the brain as needed.
They do everything well except for one thing . . . they accidentally install the brain
drain on the wrong side of the patient’s head.
Later, the doctor and the nurse both confess that they had no idea how to properly follow
the hospital’s checklist before they attempted this procedure.
That July, a different Rhode Island hospital surgeon decides that he doesn’t need to
write down important information on his patient’s charts, like which side of a patient’s head
needs to be operated on.
The nurse questioned the surgeon about leaving this area of the form blank, but since he
had been performing brain surgeries for decades he felt experienced enough to not make such
a rookie mistake.
The nurse even asked him a second time during surgery if he was sure that they were working
on the correct side, and he assured her that he was.
By the time he had realized he was incorrect, however, he had already cut their patient’s
scalp all the way to the bone.
Finally, in November yet another neurosurgeon needed to drain blood from a patient’s brain.
He was slicing into the patient’s scalp when suddenly he realized that he, too, was
operating on the wrong side.
The other two patients were fine, and this patient was able to survive for weeks before
succumbing [“sa-come-ming”] to fatal injuries.
The hospital was fined 50 thousand dollars for the wrongful death.
“No Extra Charge”: In 1995 a Tampa [“Tam-pah”] Bay, Florida [“Flohr-rah-dah”] surgeon
named Rolando Sanchez [“Roll-land-dough” “Sahn-chezz”] enters the surgery room
at the University Community hospital.
Today’s patient is a 51-year-old man named Willie King who has diabetes [“die-ah-beet-tees”] and is scheduled for a leg amputation.
Dr. Sanchez sees that his surgery team has already knocked the patient out and shaved
his leg in preparation.
He gets straight to work.
Everything is going accordingly until the nurse checks the patient’s files and starts
to shake and cry.
They were in the middle of removing the wrong leg.
At that point, the procedure had gone too far and there was nothing they could do except
for finishing the job.
When Willie wakes up, he has one thing to say.
“Doctor, that’s the wrong leg”, he tells them.
Come to find, this is not Dr. Sanchez’s first mistake with amputations, and it’s
far from University Community hospital’s mistake overall.
At a different hospital, he had removed a woman’s toe without her permission.
This most recent mistake with Willie’s leg cost him his medical license.
As for the University Community hospital, they had their support from the state taken
away, leaving them unable to receive funding.
This was their third major mistake in a short period of time.
Before Dr. Sanchez, another doctor had tied a patient’s fallopian [“fal-lope-pee-an”] tubes without her permission, and another doctor cost a 77-year-old man his life.
Leo Alfonzo [“Al-fon-zo”] was an elderly retired electrician who died after a doctor
mistook him for another patient and removed his breathing tube.
Leo had one arm paralyzed and the other was held down by restraints.
He was unable to signal for help as he slowly and silently choked.
“Chemo [“Keem-moe”] For Fun”]: Jennifer Rufer [“Roof-fer”] was 22 years old when
she went to her doctor after she saw some bleeding and thought that she could have suffered
She was given a pregnancy test and it detected an increase in a special type of hormone.
This was in 1998, and the testing technology wasn’t nearly as good as it is now.
At the time, her results could basically mean one of two things: one, she might be pregnant,
or two, she might have a rare type of cancer.
After ruling out pregnancy, the test was repeated over 40 times just to be sure, and each time
came the results came back positive for cancer.
She was then taken to the University of Washington hospital, where a man named Hisham Tamimi
[“His-sham” “Ta-me-me”] started her on an aggressive chemotherapy [“keem-moe-therapy”] regiment [“redge-gee-mint”].
This toxic therapy damaged her internal organs and required the removal of her uterus [“you-ter-russ”] and a large portion of her right lung.
Imagine everyone’s surprise when it turned out that Jennifer had no such cancer to begin
As it turns out, she was essentially being pumped full of radiation and had to undergo
multiple painful surgeries for absolutely no reason.
She was awarded 15-and-a-half million dollars for her horrible and unnecessary suffering.
“You Had One Job”: Benjamin Houghton [“Hawt-tin”] was 47 when he went to the West Los Angeles
[“Los” “An-gel-les”] Virginia [“Vur-gin-ya”] Medical Center because of his left testicle,
which had become shriveled up and extremely painful.
Doctors were afraid that it could have been cancerous and scheduled to have it removed
before the potential cancer could spread.
Dr. John Leppert [“Lep-pert”] was put in charge of the removal.
Benjamin decided that since the doctor was already poking around down there, then he
might as well have him perform the vasectomy [“vah-sect-tim-me”] that he and his wife
were always after, too.
It all seemed like a fairly routine amputation [“am-pew-tay-shun”] procedure that wasn’t
likely to go wrong.
Dr. Leppert had been at the hospital for five years, so nobody could have foreseen just
how badly the surgeon would ruin a very delicate surgery.
It wasn’t that the doctor necessarily performed the surgery incorrectly, at least not per
se [“per” “say”].
The steps themselves were actually performed quite well, but the target was way off.
Dr. Leppert, for whatever reason, had decided not to mark the surgical site before going
forward with the operation.
When Benjamin awoke, he found out that his healthy testicle had been removed.
“At first I thought it was a joke,” Benjamin would later tell that Los Angeles Times.
When it first happened though, all he could manage to ask them was “what do I do now?”
As if that weren’t bad enough, Dr. Leppert performed the vasectomy on the testicle that
should have been removed, damaging it even worse and causing even more intense pains
that never end.
There’s now a 200 thousand dollar lawsuit against the hospital and the case is still
As of 2014, Benjamin still had not had the correct one removed.
He just does not trust hospitals enough to give them a second chance.
How About I Mastect-o-you?”: In 2007 a woman in Long Island, New York needlessly had both
of her breasts removed after a faulty lab test result mistakenly identified her as having
a rare – but aggressive – form of cancer.
By the time doctors realized that Darrie Eason [“Dairy” “Ee-sin”] never had cancer,
the 35-year-old woman had already undergone a painful 7-and-a-half hour breast removal
operation known as a mastectomy.
Her legal team believes that her healthy skin tissue may have been mislabeled as cancerous
by a technician working at the CBLPath lab in Rye [“Rie”] Brook, New York.
Years later, little information is available as to the case’s outcome, or if it even
went to trial.
“A Little Off the Top”: Dr. Paul Perito [“Pear-reet-toe”] was 50-years-old when
he was operating on a patient who has since only been identified by the first name of
Hank was a prison inmate who had somehow developed painful blisters on his groin that needed
surgery to be removed.
When Hank woke up from surgery, however, he found more than just his blisters were now
According to Hank, Dr. Perito had first scooped all of the contaminated tissue out of his
groin, then he packed it with bandages and stitched it back up.
The stitches were supposed to be removed within a week, but it took them three times longer
than that to finally get around to poor Hank again.
When a new team of doctors looked at him, they couldn’t believe what Dr. Perito had
Hank’s groin had changed to a dying color and was hardly recognizable.
They pulled green gooey medical packaging from inside of Hank’s surgical wound.
It smelled so bad it made the prison guard vomit.
This started a long series more medical surgeries to try and save Hank’s manhood, each one
with progressively worse results.
Finally, Dr. Perito took another look months later and decided that nothing else could
He amputated Hank’s member.
The prisoner spent months handcuffed to a hospital bed until he finally finished his
sentence and was released.
He was 60 pounds lighter by the end of it all.
Dr. Perito appears to have a criminal history that’s just as interesting as any inmate’s.
According to witnesses, Dr. Perito is known to snort animal tranquilizers at strip clubs
and has been charged with selling watered down cancer and AIDS medicine on the side.
Hank is currently suing Perito for what has been done to him.
It’s also worth pointing out that Perito has been sued for botching a surgery on another
patient’s genitals before; that case was settled out of court.
“Gassy [“Gas-see”] Babies”: Just last summer the Bankstown-Lidcombe [“Banks-town”
“Lid-comb”] Hospital in Australia managed to poison a newborn baby.
Sonya Ghanem [“Gan-nem”] and her husband, Youssef [“Yo-seph” (say it like the name
“Joseph” but with a “Y”)] were devastated when their newborn son, John, died shortly
Youssef shook his dead infant son and desperately told him to wake up.
One week later, the grieving family gets a phone call from the hospital.
The hospital admits that a nurse had inadvertently [“in-ad-vert-tent-lee”] killed their newborn
son after mistaking a gas of nitrous oxide [“night-triss” “ox-side”] for oxygen.
Otherwise known as “laughing gas”, nitrous oxide can cause a rapid drop in blood pressure
that causes fainting and heart attacks.
When they hooked the tank up to the little babe’s nostrils, that’s exactly what happened.
“Let’s Just Blame the Parents”: That’s what a hospital in New York decided to do
after a series of mistakes lead to the death of their 3-month-old baby, Lana [“Lah-nah”].
It all started when Sara Keenan found her infant daughter face down in the crib, choking
on her vomit.
Astonishingly [“ash-ston-nish-shing-lee”], the Keenans had invited a guest over who was
an emergency medical technician, and he was able to use his training to get the child
to breathe again.
Still, they decided to call 911 and have the Lana looked at anyway, just in case – and
that’s where their nightmare kicks into overdrive.
The ambulance workers decide to skip over the two nearby hospitals and instead take
her to the Bay Shore’s Southside Hospital, which is considerably farther.
During this unnecessarily long ride, the infant receives no oxygen and they choose not to
put a tube down her throat to keep her breahing.
When she gets to the hospital, they give her a large mixture of drugs that includes Propofol
[“Prop-po-fall”], the same medication that killed Michael Jackson.
The medical staff notices that the drugs are making her blood pressure drop fast, so they
decide to give to counteract the problem by giving her adrenaline – only they they mess
up the IV and make things even worse.
From there, it’s another hour-long ambulance ride to the Cohen Children’s Medical Center
It’s become a true emergency at this point, but Sara and her husband have been kept largely
in the dark the entire time.
They are in a complete panic and simply rush from hospital to hospital as told.
They briefly meet with a doctor named Jamie Hoffman-Rosenfeld [“Hoff-man” “Rose-sen-feld”].
She tells them that she knows they have caused brain injuries by shaking the baby, and she
accuses them of child abuse.
They are taken away from Lana while she slowly dies.
Meanwhile, their two other sons, ages 6 and 3, are taken from them by the state while
the matter is looked into.
Eventually, an autopsy reveals that Lana’s brain injuries have nothing to do with being
Dr. Jamie Hoffman-Rosenfeld’s observations were way off and the Keenans are cleared of
Many feel the doctor’s accusations were made to intentionally cover up fatal mistakes
that were made by her and by other hospitals.
The Keenans have since had their children returned to them and they are now suing the
doctor along with many others.
“A Changed Man”: Ten years ago, a 77-year-old man named Sherman Sizemore [“Size-more”] was scheduled to have major surgery.
He was a Baptist [“Bap-tist”] minister and a former coal miner, so with both a strong
faith and a tough upbringing on his side, he felt ready to take on the procedure.
Little did he know, these would soon become the worst moments of his entire life.
First, the medical team gives Sherman a drug that renders him paralyzed.
Next, they start operating on his gallbladder [“gaul-bladder”].
Unfortunately, they skipped over one major step . . . the anesthesia [“anna-stee-sha”].
Over the next 16 minutes, Sherman feels every cut and stab as the surgical team digs deeper
and deeper into the middle of his torso.
He is completely conscious, yet unable to call out or even open his eyes as impossibly
sharp objects rip open his sternum [“ster-numb”] – just above the intestines.
It feels like it will never going to end.
Even after the surgery, Sherman continued to be haunted by feelings of extreme terror
It was the worst violation that he had ever been through and broke him as a person.
A short time later, the minister put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
“Ragequitting Surgery”: In 2004 a surgeon in Romania [“Row-main-knee-ah”] named
Naum Ciomu [“Nahm” “See-oh-moo”] went crazy during the middle of a very stressful
He needed to operate on a man’s testicles and had to make an incision to get inside.
His hand slips and he accidentally cuts through the 36-year-old man’s urethra [“you-wreath-thra”].
No doubt most of you are already clutching yourselves and begging me to end the story
there, and I really wish I could, but what the surgeon does next is just too insane not
Dr. Ciomu becomes enraged by his own mistake and flies into a frenzy.
He grabs a scalpel and cuts the patient’s entire phallus [“foul-luss”] off in one
Then he throws it on the table and cuts it into three more pieces before stomping out
of the room.
He leaves his shocked medical assistants struggling to keep the bleeding, freshly traumatized
The surgeon was ordered to pay almost 800 thousand dollars for this violent act and
sentenced to one year in prison.
Do you think this was enough, or should he have been punished more?