The Grapevine

Medical Malpractice: British Hospital Accidentally Gives Wrong Man Vasectomy

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A mistake that could have far-reaching repercussions for both the patient and the operating doctor. Pixabay Public Domain

A doctor in England is in hot water after mistakenly giving a vasectomy — a semi-permanent sterility procedure — to the wrong patient. The doctor, Nanikram Vaswani of Broadgreen Hospital in Liverpool, could now possibly lose his license to practice medicine, as the patient is reportedly “physically and emotionally traumatized” following the mix-up.

Patient A, who cannot be named for privacy reasons, was booked in to have some scar tissue removed by Vaswani in February 2014, The Daily Mail reported. However, due to a reported backlog of patients that day, Patient A was mistaken for another patient that was scheduled to undergo a vasectomy. In addition to the change of patient order, neither the nurse, Rosemary Tollitt, or Vaswani had checked the patient’s identity or referred to the patient’s consent form prior to the procedure. In fact, Vaswani only realized his mistake once the procedure was completed.

“It's fair to say there were a number of things that happened that day which led to the situation where the error took place,” Christopher Dawson, a consultant urological surgeon who investigated the mistake told The Daily Mail.

A vasectomy involves cutting or blocking two tubes in the male reproductive tract, called the vas deferens, so that sperm can no longer get into semen. As a result, the man is permanently unable to get a woman pregnant. According to The Family Doctor, the doctor will make a small incision in the scrotum and pull out a part of the vas deferen. They will then remove a section of the vas deferen and seal the ends with small clamps. The procedure takes around half an hour to complete, and is usually done while the patient is awake and numbed with a local anesthetic.

Although the procedure can be reversed, The Daily Mail reported that Vaswani chose not to reverse the vasectomy upon learning of his mistake because it had been several years since he had attempted the reversal procedure. In addition, Dawson explained that considering the patient’s emotional state, it was unlikely that he would have been able to have given proper consent for a reverse procedure at that time anyway. Vaswani now faces possibly losing the right to practice medicine ever again.

This is not the first time a man accidentally had an unwanted vasectomy. A similar incidence occurred at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, also in 2014, The Liverpool Echo reported.

Unfortunately, medical blunders such as this are not completely unheard of. Earlier this year, Nate Melton, a healthy newborn boy in Tennessee mistakenly had part of his tongue removed, WTVF reported. The operation was meant to correct a minor tongue deformity, but hospital staff mistook Nate for another baby. In addition, the hospital failed to receive consent from Nate’s parents prior to the operation. As a result, the child underwent an unnecessary frenectomy. During a frenectomy the skin flap underneath the tongue is cut or removed in an effort to help the tongue move more freely around the mouth, Jorgensen Orthodontics reported. At the moment, it is not clear whether the unnecessary procedure will have long lasting effects on Nate's ability to eat and speak.

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