Hong Kong brain surgeon operates on wrong side of patient’s skull

The medical mistake was promptly corrected and the patient’s family informed, according to the Hospital Authority; a probe is under way

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 March, 2017, 8:33am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 March, 2017, 8:33am

A serious medical blunder at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in which a doctor operated on the wrong side of a patient’s skull, has led to an investigation by the facility.

The doctor cut open the left side of a woman’s skull, when it was actually the right side that was bleeding and in need of surgery.

The 54-year-old woman was transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Tuesday night.

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A brain scan conducted the next day showed that the patient suffered from an aneurysm in the right brain causing an increase in intracranial pressure.

The woman was battling a critical and life-threatening situation.

“The neurosurgeon arranged an urgent craniotomy to drain the cerebrospinal fluid to release high intracranial pressure, but removed a bone flap on the left side of the skull inadvertently,” the Hospital Authority said in a statement on Friday.

The surgeon only realised the mistake when an anaesthetist spotted the error while reviewing the report during the operation.

“The neurosurgeon immediately placed back the bone flap on the left side of the skull while another neurosurgeon performed a right craniotomy.

“The neurosurgical team explained the situation to the patient’s family in the afternoon on the same day,” the statement further read.

The correct operation drained the patient’s cerebrospinal fluid and removed blood clots. A clipping of the aneurysm – to prevent risks from bleeding – was also performed.

The authority said the hospital noted that the medical team had provided prompt clinical treatment to the patient and that it had apologised for the mistake.

The patient is still hospitalised and in a stable condition.

The authority is expected to receive the investigation report in eight weeks.