Sadly, the following story is not an urban myth. A man and his wife in Birmingham, Ala., have filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Princeton Baptist Medical Center and two doctors for accidentally castrating him when he went into the hospital last month for a circumcision.
According to AL.com, the lawsuit claims the man had been receiving treatment from a doctor at Urology Centers of Alabama, while another doctor performed the surgery in June. He was never warned the circumcision procedure could result in an amputation, yet he awoke to find “his penis was amputated," the lawsuit states. His lawyer is arguing the defendants were negligent for failing to seek assistance from a consulting physician when problems arose during the circumcision procedure.
The lawsuit does not specify a total amount of damages nor does it identify the man by name. Neither he nor his wife "gave consent for the complete or partial amputation of (his) penis," according to the suit. As a result of the castration, the man has spent additional time in the hospital recovering, while suffering additional and extended pain. Plus, the non-consensual procedure has cost the unhappy couple additional expense. The lawsuit also notes his wife’s claim of a “loss of consortium” — hanky panky, in plain English. Neither his attorney nor the defendants have commented on the suit, according to AL.com.
Shockingly, this is not the first accidental penis removal story in recent years. In 2003, ABC News reported how a 67-year-old man went into surgery for bladder cancer and came out missing his penis and testicles. Hurshell Ralls said his doctors never warned him or his wife that amputation of the penis and testicles might have been part of surgery. In a deposition, the man’s doctor said while he was removing Ralls' bladder, he determined the cancer had spread to the penis, necessitating the additional amputation. Yet, another doctor who later examined cell slides found that the cancer had not spread to his penis.
According to government estimates, about one out of every eight patients suffered a potentially avoidable complication during a hospital stay in the U.S. in 2012. Perhaps the man from Birmingham should be thankful he’s alive. ProPublica found that between 210,000 and 440,000 patients each year go to the hospital and suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death, meaning medical errors are the third leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease and cancer.