Doctor Marks 'Right' Instead of 'Left' Testicle, Then Operates

Wayne J. Guglielmo, MA

July 28, 2021

Florida regulators have imposed a fine and other measures on a Tampa doctor who made a crucial error prior to his patient's testicular surgery, as a story in the Miami Herald, among other news sites, reports.

On September 10, 2019, a patient referred to in state documents as "C.F." showed up for a procedure — a varicocelectomy — that would remove the enlarged veins in his left testicle. His doctor that day was Raul Fernandez-Crespo, MD, a urologist who had been licensed to practice in Florida since April of the same year. Fernandez-Crespo completed his urology residency at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine in 2019.

Following a conversation with C.F., Fernandez-Crespo designated what he believed was the proper surgical site — his patient's right testicle.

He then proceeded to operate, but at some point during the procedure — news accounts don't make clear when or how he became aware of his error — he realized C.F. had actually consented to a left-testicle varicocelectomy. With his patient still sedated, Fernandez-Crespo also completed the second procedure.

His mistake came to the attention of the Department of Health, which filed an administrative complaint against the surgeon. On June 17, 2021, the department's medical licensing body, the Florida Board of Medicine, handed down its final order about the case.

In addition to imposing a $2500 fine on Fernandez-Crespo and issuing "a letter of concern" — a public document that can be used as evidence in any relevant future disciplinary action against him — regulators said the surgeon must reimburse $2045.56 to the department for its case-related administrative costs; take a 5-hour CME course in risk management or attend 8 hours of board disciplinary hearings; and, finally, give a 1-hour lecture on wrong-site surgeries at a board-approved medical facility.

Before this, Fernandez-Crespo had no previous disciplinary history with the Florida Board of Medicine.

Huge Judgment After Fertility Procedure Goes Wrong

A Connecticut couple whose fertility and prenatal care at a state university health center proved disastrous will receive millions of dollars in damages, according to a report in the Hartford Courant.

In 2014, Jean-Marie Monroe-Lynch and her husband, Aaron Lynch, went to UConn Health, in Farmington, for treatment of Jean-Marie's infertility. Her care was overseen by the Center for Advanced Reproductive Services (CARS), a private company then under contract with UConn Health. (The contract, which ended in 2014, obligated UConn to provide CARS providers with medical malpractice coverage.)

There, Jean-Marie was inseminated with sperm from a donor who turned out to be a carrier for cytomegalovirus (CMV), the herpes virus that can cause severe birth defects, or even fetal death, when contracted by a pregnant woman. The insemination resulted in a twin pregnancy, a boy and a girl. The girl, Shay, died in utero after several of her organs became infected with CMV; the boy, Joshua, was born with severe mental and physical disabilities.

In their suit, Monroe-Lynch and her husband alleged that they were never cautioned about the risks associated with using a sperm donor whose blood had tested positive for CMV antibodies. Their suit further alleged that, at the 20-week ultrasound, UConn's prenatal team failed to detect evidence of congenital CMV infection and again failed, 2 weeks later at the 22-week ultrasound, to properly recognize and respond to abnormal findings.

"They totally dropped the ball," said the couple's attorney. "If you're a pregnant woman and contract the virus for the first time, the results can be devastating." 

CARS disputes this conclusion, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to prove as a "matter of scientific fact" that Monroe-Lynch was infected with CMV as the result of her intrauterine insemination.

But Superior Court Judge Mark H. Taylor disagreed. In his 107-page ruling, he said that the court "agrees with the vast majority of superior courts, concluding that a physician providing obstetric care owes a direct duty to a mother to prevent harm to her child during gestation and delivery."

Jean-Marie Monroe-Lynch and Aaron Lynch received a $37.6 million award, consisting of $24.1 million in economic damages and $13.5 million in non-economic damages.

Their surviving child, Joshua, will reportedly require a lifetime of medical and other care. In the meantime, UConn Health vows to appeal the Superior Court's decision.

COVID Patient's Relative Demands Justice for Fatal Outcome

An Indiana man whose grandfather recently died after suffering a stroke is calling on state lawmakers to rethink legislation passed earlier this year to protect healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a story reported by CBS4Indy.

Late last year, Daniel Enlow's 83-year-old grandfather, Edward Rigney, was checked into Eskenazi Hospital, in Indianapolis. Rigney suffered from COPD and had also been diagnosed with COVID-19.

At some point during his hospitalization, medical staff attempted to place what seems to have been an arterial line in order to monitor his condition. During the procedure, or at some point shortly thereafter, an "iatrogenic air embolus" was released into his veins and caused a stroke, according to medical records and Rigney's death certificate.

"I started asking for medical records because I wanted to know what was happening leading up to it in black and white in front of me," said Enlow, who wished to present his evidence to a medical review panel, as required by Indiana law. The first step in this process would have been to consult with a medical malpractice attorney, but several declined to take his case.

Why? Because a pair of bills passed by Indiana legislators in early 2021 make COVID-related suits — even tangentially related ones — potentially difficult to take to court.

The bills raised the bar to file a medical malpractice claim in COVID-19 cases and allow only those that involve "gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct."

"In the vast majority of cases, it's impossible to prove that," said Fred Schultz, immediate past president of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, who lobbied against the legislation.

The bills were never designed to offer "blanket freedom," said GOP State Senator Aaron Freeman, sponsor of one of the bills. "If something is being used in a way that it is a complete bar to certain claims, then maybe we need to go back and look at it and open that up a little bit and make it less restrictive. I'm certainly open to having those conversations."

Meanwhile, Enlow has vowed to keep pushing in the name of his late grandfather. The hospital's parent company, Eskenazi Health, has declined to comment.

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.       

Wayne J. Guglielmo, MA, is an independent journalist based in Mahwah, New Jersey.

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