Can Your Brain Surgeon Tell The Difference Between Left and Right?


In Rhode Island, an 86 year old man has died, and probably not from natural causes. The man had brain surgery three weeks prior to his death. After the surgery, it was discovered that brain surgeon made a terrible medical mistake during the surgery and operated on the wrong side of the man's brain. State health officials are currently investigating the facts in the case to determine whether the surgeon's error was a contributing factor in the man's death.

The man died on August 18th after having emergency surgery on July 30th. The surgery was supposed to be an attempt to stop bleeding in the man's brain.

A spokeswoman for the state health department issued a statement saying that an autopsy has been performed and that the state medical examiner is working to determine the exact cause of death.

Dr. Frederick Harrington performed the brain operation on the elderly man. His nurse practitioner did not record on the patient's chart which side of the brain needed surgery. Reportedly, another nurse pointed out that the necessary information was missing before Harrington began the operation. Instead of consulting the CT scan, Harrington relied on his obviously faulty memory and opened up the wrong side of the man's scull. During the surgery Harrington realized that he was operating on the wrong side of the man's brain and then proceeded with surgery on the other side.

Dr. Mary Reich Cooper, vice president and chief quality office for Lifespan, the parent company of Rhode Island Hospital where the man received the botched surgery said that in their haste to provide medical treatment for the patient, the surgical team failed to follow proper procedures. It certainly didn't take a brain surgeon to figure that one out, Dr. Cooper!

Harrington's surgical privileges at the hospital have been suspended. He has agreed not to operate on any patients until the investigation regarding the patient's death is complete.

Apparently the hospital does not have a great track record when it comes to being able to tell right from left. This is reportedly the third incident within six years in which the hospital's neurosurgery unit has operated on the wrong side of a patient.

At another hospital, Roger Williams Medical Center, Harrington also had surgical privileges. Last September, he reportedly operated on the wrong side of a patient's head at that facility.

The Rhode Island state Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline reviewed the incident at Roger Williams Medical Center and decided there were mitigating circumstances. Harrington had been summoned to the hospital for an early morning emergency surgery and was credited for saving the patient's life. Prior to the incident Harrington had a good record.

The board opted to develop a remediation plan for Harrington rather than publicly discipline him at that time, according to Dr. Robert Crausman, the board's chief administrative officer.

I'm sure the dead man's family does not thank them for that decision.

» Back to Injury Articles

Copyright © 2011 TotalInjury, LLC. (as licensee). All rights reserved.

Submit ZIP Code
Or, call us anytime. Available 24/7: 855-694-9176

Some bumps and bruises are a natural part of life. But when your pain is caused by reckless behavior, abusive behavior or negligent practices, Total Injury is there.

If you were injured as a result of someone’s negligence or intentional actions against you, you may have the right to compensation for any injury, damage or loss caused by the person at fault. About Us »

Attorneys: We help clients find you! Call 877-349-1307

PAID ATTORNEY ADVERTISEMENT. THIS WEB SITE IS A GROUP ADVERTISEMENT AND THE PARTICIPATING ATTORNEYS ARE INCLUDED BECAUSE THEY PAY AN ADVERTISING FEE. It is not a lawyer referral service or prepaid legal services plan. Total Injury is not a law firm. Your request for contact will be forwarded to the local lawyer who has paid to advertise in the ZIP code you provide. Total Injury does not endorse or recommend any lawyer or law firm who participates in the network nor does it analyze a person's legal situation when determining which participating lawyers receive a person's inquiry. It does not make any representation and has not made any judgment as to the qualifications, expertise or credentials of any participating lawyer. The information contained herein is not legal advice. No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. Any information you submit to Total Injury does not create an attorney-client relationship and may not be protected by attorney-client privilege. Do not use the form to submit confidential, time-sensitive, or privileged information. All photos are of models and do not depict clients. To see the attorney in your area who is responsible for this advertisement, please click here.

FLORIDA ONLY: Total Injury is considered a lawyer referral service in the state of Florida under the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct. By all other standards, Total Injury is a group advertisement and not a lawyer referral service.

If you live in Mississippi, Missouri, New York or Wyoming, please click here for additional information.