Saturday, May 10, 2008

Wrong Side Surgery in Connecticut: Louis B. Pieper, DVM

If you are familiar with the kinds of medical errors that occur in human medicine, you may have heard of "wrong side surgery" -- you know, when the surgeon is supposed to operate on one side of the patients body, but operates on the other instead. In recent years, many steps have been taken to try to reduce this for humans: For example, they will have the patient mark the surgical site while still conscious.

What steps will be taken by the veterinary industry to reduce or eliminate wrong side surgery on our pets? Because . . . IT HAPPENS. Here is an example:

In Connecticut, in June of 1997, while operating as a vet at Barnum Animal Hospital in Bridgeport, veterinarian Louis Pieper operated on the left hind leg of his patient, a dog named "Slider."

Just one problem: It was the the RIGHT side leg that he was supposed to operate on.

Pieper was fined $1,000 by the vet board.

His license was placed on probation and the board ordered him to "develop a system in his office to ensure that the correct body part is identified prior to surgery."