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Patient still alive when hospital tries to remove organs

Many patients in New Jersey may have nightmares about going to the hospital after several hospital errors led to a patient almost having her organs harvested for donation while she was still alive. The almost fatal mistake was caused by several hospital errors when a woman was brought to the emergency room after a drug overdose.

The patient's drug overdose led doctors to believe that the patient had a "cardiac death" and was put on life support. The doctors noted that the patient suffered brain damage and after discussing with the victim's family, they withdrew her life support and were going to harvest her organs for donation. However, the patient was not dead and organ donation was only called off by the surgeons after the patient opened her eyes just before the operation. 

Waking up on an operating table right before a surgeon is going to remove your organs is a new nightmare hospital patients may soon have. So, how did the hospital make such a drastic and almost fatal mistake? An investigation of the case found that several medical errors contributed to the mistake.

First, the hospital did not provide the proper treatment to keep the drugs from being absorbed in the patient's stomach when she was brought into the ER. They also failed to test the patient to see if the drugs were out of the her system and they did not do enough brain scans to see if the patient suffered irreversible brain damage.

Second, the doctors missed a nurse's note that said the patient was not brain-dead and was actually improving. The nurse noted that the patient had started to curl her toes after routine reflex tests, showing that she did not suffer irreversible brain damage.

All these medical errors and the hospital's negligence led to the patient almost having her organs removed unnecessarily. In cases like this one where a hospital's negligence caused medical errors and mistreatment of a patient, victims and their families could file a medical negligence lawsuit against the hospital and doctors. Hospitals and their staff can be held liable for medical errors and other mistakes, especially if those mistakes harmed the patient. Victims of medical errors or negligence should contact a medical malpractice attorney to discuss their specific case.




Source: CBS News, "Hospital errors lead to 'dead' patient opening eyes during organ harvesting," Michelle Castillo, July 9, 2013

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