My left foot: Surgeons at major Vietnam hospital operate on patient’s wrong leg

By Le Nga   July 19, 2016 | 11:24 pm PT
The negligent staff have been suspended pending further investigations.

In what could be called one of the most brazen negligence in medical history, surgeons at a hospital in Hanoi have operated on the wrong leg of a patient.

Thao, a 37-year-old man living in Hanoi’s southern district of Ung Hoa, underwent an operation on his right leg when it was his left one that was the problem at one of the city’s top hospitals.

Thao, whose full name was not revealed, was suffering painful nerve paralysis in his left calf which made him walk with a limp.

He went to Viet Duc Hospital, the most well-known surgical center in Vietnam, but doctors there operated on his right leg.

The surgery took place on Tuesday morning under spinal anaesthesia. After the anesthetic wore off and he regained consciousness, he realized that instead of the left leg, it was his perfectly fine right leg that had been operated on.


The patient had nerve damage in his left leg, but doctors operated on his right leg instead. Photo by VnExpress/Le Nga

What is worse, the hospital asked the family to foot the bill for the new operation on the patient’s left leg.

The family decided to lodge a complaint against the team of doctors who bungled the operation.

Viet Duc Hospital has asked the surgeons who were present in the operating room to give an explanation, Tran Binh Giang, deputy director of the hospital, said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

The surgeons said that when they went into the operating room, the patient had already been transferred to the operating table and covered with aseptic surgical drapes, so they just proceeded with the operation.

The hospital admitted the incident was caused by the negligence of the surgerical team, Giang said.

The patient underwent another operation on Tuesday afternoon without having to pay more fees.

Following the incident, Viet Duc Hospital has offered the patient an official apology and temporarily suspended the team of surgeons, nurses and technicians who took part in the operation, Giang said.

At the press briefing, the hospital issued a statement saying it would take the case seriously and that further investigations would be underway.

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