Today’s technology in medicine is astounding. There are cures and vaccines for diseases that were once terminal. There are machines that can breathe for us, pump our hearts, and scan our brains. Doctors have more knowledge available to them than ever before. So it’s no wonder that many patients place their complete trust in their doctors. 

But one thing hasn’t changed over the years: doctors are still human. They can make mistakes. No matter how much modern medicine improves, there will always be medical “professionals” who seriously mess things up. 

Read on for 7 examples of the worst medical malpractice cases in history. They might make you think twice before placing all your faith in your doctor. 

Surgeon Amputates the Wrong Leg

As if it weren’t heartbreaking enough to have to lose one leg, a diabetic patient lost both due to medical malpractice. Willie King won a $250,000 settlement against the surgeon who amputated his healthy leg by mistake. 

The 51-year-old also won a $900,000 settlement against University Community Hospital. Later on, he had the unhealthy leg amputated at another hospital. 

Surgeons operating on a patient.

Wrong Sperm Used For In Vitro Fertilization

One of the strangest medical malpractice stories is the one about a baby born from the wrong sperm sample. Thomas and Nancy Andrews sued New York Medical Services for Reproductive Medicine after they used a different man’s sperm for in vitro fertilization. 

The Andrews had no idea of the mistake until their daughter was born. She appeared to be of a completely different race! A DNA test confirmed that Thomas wasn’t the father. 

Surgeon Carves Initials Into Woman’s Abdomen

This medical malpractice story is a case of a doctor falling far off his rocker. Dr. Allan Zarkin had a long, successful career as an obstetrician. But now, he’ll forever be known as the man who carved his initials into a woman’s abdomen while performing a C-section. 

Zarkin branded his patient, Liana Gedz, with a 3-by-1 1/2-inch “A” and “Z”. His reasoning? “I did such a beautiful job, I’ll initial it.” That’s what the medical team heard him announce in the operating room.

Gedz and her husband sued Beth Israel Medical Center for the incident. The hospital banned and reported Zarkin. His colleagues later dubbed him “Dr. Zorro”.

Man Undergoes Surgery Without Anesthesia

Imagine going under the knife while seeing, hearing, and feeling it all–and you can’t move or speak to make it stop. It sounds like something out of a horror movie, but anesthesia errors do happen in real life. 

In 2006, Sherman Sizemore received a paralytic drug before going into surgery. But doctors failed to give him anesthesia that would put him to sleep. So Sizemore endured 16 minutes of excruciating pain before the medical team realized their mistake!

When they discovered the error, Sizemore’s doctors tried to cover it up by giving him an amnesia-inducing drug. But the poor man was plagued by flashbacks and nightmares after he left the hospital. He committed suicide two weeks later. 

Switched Vials Cost a Renowned Photographer His Life

One of the worst medical malpractice cases in history is that of the man who suffered a huge loss due to a teeny, tiny error. 

Miami Herald photographer Bob East decided to donate his eye to science after he found out he had corneal cancer. So a doctor brought a tiny, unmarked vial of a formaldehyde-like substance into the operating room. 

The surgery went smoothly at first. But then, an anesthesiologist grabbed the vial of preservative instead of the one he needed, and injected it into East’s spine. The damage was instant, and permanent: East was brain dead. He died five days later. 

Several vials of medication.

Man Catches Fire On the Operating Table

The operating table might be the last place you’d expect someone to catch fire. But that’s exactly what happened to Enrique Ruiz. In one of the worst medical malpractice cases of 2012, Ruiz caught on fire while getting a tracheotomy. To make matters worse, the hospital tried to cover it up. 

An electronic scalpel made the oxygen supply explode, giving Ruiz painful second-degree burns. Dr. Jay Yelon brushed off the incident, saying, “That happens sometimes. It’s not unusual. It was like a sunburn.” 

Yelon didn’t mention the extensive burns in the post-surgery report. But an investigation revealed that Ruiz had caught fire and nearly lost his life. 

Girl Gets Organ Transplant–With Wrong Blood Type

This medical malpractice story will blow your mind because of how preventable it was. Even more astounding is where it took place: in the prestigious Duke University Hospital. 

17 year-old Jesica Santilian received a much-needed heart and lung transplant. But doctors made one huge mistake: they didn’t check her blood type first. 

The new organs didn’t match Jesica’s blood type, so her body rejected them. She suffered severe brain damage, and died soon after. The negligent hospital covered up the mistake for 11 days before accepting responsibility. 

Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Story? 

Doctor negligence is serious business. If you believe that you or a loved one are a victim of medical malpractice, you may be entitled to a settlement. Contact our knowledgeable team of attorneys today to find out if you have a case.