Sharp Healthcare fined by state over error during man's testicle surgery

Report: Surgeon cut man's wrong testicle

SAN DIEGO - A surgeon cutting a man's wrong testicle resulted in the state Department of Public Health issuing a $75,000 fine to Sharp Healthcare Thursday.

The operation for the 33-year-old man at Sharp Memorial Hospital was for removal of his left testicle, where a lesion was discovered.

The surgeon, however, made his initial cut on the right side of the patient's scrotum, according to the department.

A document released by the agency showed that others in the surgical unit pointed out the error, and the incision was closed, and the rest of the procedure continued normally.

The man suffered increased pain because of the two incisions, the agency reported.

The surgical staff failed to take a "time out" to focus their attention to make sure they were about to perform the correct procedure at the proper site on the right patient, the department concluded.

"We are extremely sorry that our patient unnecessarily incurred a surgical incision," said a statement from Sharp Healthcare. "Our investigation of the December 2011 incident revealed that although the surgical team immediately recognized the error and stopped the procedure, key steps should have been taken to prevent this event in accordance with Sharp policy."

According to the statement, Sharp launched a comprehensive performance improvement initiative that added additional safeguards to assure that surgical team members properly identify a patient's surgical site during the pre-operative phase and also before surgery begins in the operating suite. The state Department of Public Health reviewed and approved the plan, the statement said.

Sharp Memorial was one of 10 statewide fined by the department -- the only one in San Diego County.

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