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A MIRACLE or Medical Negligence? Mixed feelings! Help!

hannah814
Posts: 8
Joined: Jul 2005

I do not know where to begin. I was diagnosed in July 2005 with renalcell carcinoma (cancerous tumor in my kidney). I was told that I had to have a partial nephrectomy. I had my surgery 8/24 and my Doctor ended up taking my whole kidney. He said that the "tumor was occluding (cutting off) the the blood supply to the rest of my kidney so he had to take it all." They told me it would take a day or 2 for the pathology report which would verify it as cancer and the degree (even though we knew it was stage one). On Friday I asked if the path report was back yet and was told no. On Saturday my doctor came into my room and told me he had 2 things that he needed to discuss with me. The first one was that there was no sign of cancer in my kidney! I was soooo happy... just taking the big "C" out of the equation was all that I needed to hear but then my Doctor advised me he had more. He then proceeded to tell me that He had removed a perfectly healthy kidney. I had no tumor, I had no signs of infection, no scare tissue.... nothing. He said he had spent all day on Friday reviewing my chart with other Doctors and he did not know how this happened or where the tumor went because there was a visable tumor on all of my films (MRI, CT, CT w/contrast, ultrasound). At the time that he told me that I was just happy that he was not telling me that there was something else wrong with me. But this is now the 2nd day since I heard all of this and I am thinking a little more clearly so now I have questions. How could he have told me and my family the day of surgery that he had to take the whole kidney because of the tumor being in my blood supply when there was no tumor? I am confused. I know that I was in alot of prayers and if God had taken my tumor (if there actually was one there), why didn't the Doctor notice that there was not a tumor there? The Doctor told my family after my surgery he saw the tumor.... How is that? If you were in my shoes how would you be feeling right now? I have mixed emotions... I am thankful that there wasn't a cancerous tumor but yet I am a little upset that I lost a whole kidney when I initially went in to have only a partial kidney removal. And then to find out that I didn't need even a part of my kidney removed it is just causing me mixed feelings. Please don't get me wrong...AGAIN I am very thankful for no kidney cancer... but now I have no kidney. Do you think my Doctor was a little negligent?

Chicago's picture
Chicago
Posts: 74
Joined: Apr 2004

Hey Hannah,

Well, at least we can be thankful that there's no cancer, and that a person can live very comfortably on one kidney.

I don't know what to tell you about the rest though. There seems to be some information missing. Did they actually find "nothing wrong" with the kidney at all? Or was there just something there that turned out to be benign?

For example, they spotted a mass in my kidney, but couldn't tell if it was cancerous or not. I was given an 80% chance that it was "nothing serious at all." We opted for the surgery, just to make sure, and found out that it was 100% cancer. The surgery worked out well for me.

It is possible that there was something benign in your kidney that showed up on all the scans and looked like cancer. In that case, the surgery would have been appropriate, even though it turned out OK after the surgery. These things often are only "certain" after the thing is physically removed.

But if there was just nothing there at all -- even benign -- you may have a case. You would have to talk to a lawyer in your state. Your entire chart would have to be reviewed, and there must be some clear evidence in the chart that they missed something they shouldn't have, or didn't do something they should have.

Just being wrong is not malpractice. A lot of the stuff doctors do is to make sure that they err on the side of protecting you.

hannah814
Posts: 8
Joined: Jul 2005

Hi Chicago! The Doctor told me Saturday that my kidney was perfect.... nothing wrong with it.... no masses, no signs of a previous infection, no scar tissue that might have been mistaken for a tumor... nothing... just perfect! He was very upset about it... said that he spent all day on Friday with my films talking to various Doctors and they all agreed with him that it was a tumor and when he told them my kidney was perfect he said none of them could believe it. He and several other Doctors even went to the path lab with my films and looked at my kidney and viewed the slides themselves and they still found nothing. Like I said I am very happy about no cancer... I know I am very lucky here! But, I went in for only a partial kidney removal and ended up with a total removal because the dr said the tumor was blocking off the blood supply to the rest of my kidney.... but there wasn't a tumor there to block off the blood supply. I'm just confused.. and thankful!

rgass
Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2005

Rarely is surgery like a Nephrectomy performed without first having a biopsy done to show that the abnormality seen on CAT scan, ultrasound or MRI is indeed Cancer. "Why wasn't a kidney biopsy performed first" would be my question. Lesions seen on those other tests are only suspicious for cancer...not a diagnosis. You have been done a great disservice and I would see a lawyer. What now if something goes wrong with your remaining kidney? Obviously, a kidney biopsy beforehand would have revealed "No Cancer" I doubt anyone on this list has had a Nephrectomy done without a previous tissue diagnosis by biopsy. I certainly had one and it wasn't even very painful.

hannah814
Posts: 8
Joined: Jul 2005

Hi rgass!
The first time I saw the urologist with my films he told me it was a tumor and he was almost certain it was cancer. I did ask him to biopsy it and I was told it wasn't necesary because the tumor had to come out. You had a biopsy done? If you do not care to tell me where you live (State) because most of the Doctors in this state... well the ones that I know agree a biopsy isn't needed. But, it could have saved me my kidney. After my surgery when my Doctor went out to tell my family that he took the whole kidney and not just part... my sister asked him about it being cancer. He informed her there is only one type of kidney tumor that is not cancer so they (him and other doctors) assume all tumors are cancer and they must come out. Well I have a new one now.... when I went in to see the urologist to have my staples removed he told me to consider myself as a kidney donor but no one received my kidney... How nice huh! I am worried about living with one kidney diabetes runs in both sides of my family (I had it when I was pregnant) and high blood pressure runs on both sides also. I know these conditions can effect your kidneys so I am scared about my future since I'm only 33.

Chicago's picture
Chicago
Posts: 74
Joined: Apr 2004

Hey Hannah,

I wouldn't be too quick to assume that they had to do a biopsy. One of the dangers of surgery for kidney cancer is cutting into the cancer cells and releasing them into the body. Taking a biopsy can be risky with RCC.

Once again, you need to see your full charts. There are many things that can appear as cancer, but are totally benign later. The usual test for medical malpractice in most states requires that the docs missed something obvious that should have been seen, or did something that shouldn't have been done. The mistake or omission has to violate the standard of care. You are better off having an objective doctor review your charts before you talk to a lawyer.

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