M.D. removes kidney he thought was tumor
PALM BEACH, Fla. — A West Palm Beach surgeon has agreed to pay a $3,000 fine — among other penalties — for accidentally removing a woman’s kidney, thinking it was a cancerous mass, according to the Florida Board of Medicine. Dr. Ramon Vazquez, a West Palm Beach surgeon, was tasked with opening up Maureen Pacheco on April 29, 2016, at Wellington Regional Medical Center. Orthopedic surgeons were then scheduled to perform a spinal fusion to alleviate Pacheco’s lower back pain. But Pacheco had a condition from birth in which her kidney never ascended into the abdomen and was located in her pelvic region. Vazquez saw the undeveloped but functioning organ as cancer and removed it only to find out later from a pathologist that it was, in fact, an intact pelvic kidney. The Florida Health Department filed a complaint in December 2017, saying the cancer diagnosis was not related to the patient’s medical condition and “therefore medically unnecessary.” The Board of Medicine initially rejected a settlement with a $1,500 fine. Under the final settlement, Vazquez must also give a one-hour lecture on wrong-site surgery to the entire medical staff of a hospital where he maintains staff privileges. Vazquez must also complete three hours of medical education on preoperative evaluation of surgical patients and pay $4,800 in costs. The Health Department in documents stated that the fact that Vazquez had no prior discipline. It also stated that two other surgeons agreeing the mass should be removed “due to potential malignancy” reduced the harshness of the discipline.