The Most Embarrassing Medical Failures of All Time

Mistakes happen in every profession. And as much as we’d like to think otherwise, medical professionals are not exempt from them. Sometimes they’re silly mistakes that we can laugh off, other times they’re a lot more terrifying… or even deadly.

You’ve probably heard of plenty of botched plastic surgery procedures,  but medical failures can happen no matter what you’re having done. Here are a few of the most embarrassing of them all.

Regina Turner had the wrong surgery

Regina Turner smiling in front of a bookshelf.

Regina Turner’s illness became worse due to this error. | YouTube

A few years ago, 53-year-old Regina Turner was scheduled for a left-sided craniotomy bypass at St. Clare Health Center in St. Louis. Instead, she received a procedure on the right side of her brain. A second surgery was performed six days later to correct the error, but the damage was done — Turner was left unable to speak properly.

Pablo Garcia and the massive overdose

White pills spread out on a table.

Garcia almost died from the pharmacist’s mistake. | Loooby/iStock/Getty Images

16-year-old Pablo Garcia was admitted to  the hospital for a colonoscopy to examine intestinal polyps (had a rare genetic disorder called NEMO deficiency syndrome that caused the issues). Garcia had been prescribed the drug Septra, but due to an error in the computer system, he was given 38.5 pills, the largest dose ever recorded. It’s hard to say why the team on shift didn’t question the system’s error, but Garcia had a grand mal seizure and almost died.

Surgeons left 16 items in this poor patient during surgery

Surgeons performing a surgery.

There were 16 items left inside the patient’s body. | Jacoblund

In 2013, a German hospital was sued for malpractice after the patient’s lawyer claimed that a whopping 16 items were left in her client’s body after a surgery for prostate cancer. It took two separate surgeries to remove the items, causing serious distress for the elderly cancer patient.

Towels? Really?

Surgeons hands holding and passing surgical instrument.

The patient won a settlement. | Megaflopp/iStock/Getty Images

It seems that the prostate cancer patient was far from the only one unlucky enough to have items left inside his body during surgery. Another example: In December 2011, a man in Ohio who had two towels left in his body after surgery at a Veterans hospital won a $275,000 settlement from the federal government. Yikes.

The case of the wrong sperm

Nancy Andrews and her family.

Nancy Andrews chose to take legal action against the clinic’s negligence. | YouTube

In 2004, Nancy Andrews conceived a child through in vitro fertilization at a New York fertility clinic. But when Baby Jessica was born, they noticed her skin was significantly darker than either parent. DNA tests revealed that doctors at the clinic had accidentally used another man’s sperm to inseminate Andrews. The couple is raising the girl as their own, but they filed a malpractice suit against the owner of the clinic as well as the embryologist who allegedly mixed up the samples.

 And the case of the wrong testicle

Benjamin Houghton sitting in a chair.

The veteran and his wife sued the doctors. | YouTube

47-year-old Air Force veteran Benjamin Houghton needed to have his left testicle removed due to cancer fears from doctors. Unfortunately, due to a series of errors, his healthy right testicle was removed instead. This resulted in a $200,000 lawsuit from Houghton and his wife.

Ambien instead of antibiotics

Pile of prescription pills spilling from open pill bottle.

The pharmacy made a huge mistake. | Andromachi/iStock/Getty Images

12-year-old Riley McDougall was prescribed antibiotics, but when she started taking her pills, she became dazed and experienced terrifying hallucinations. When she was taken to the ER, she was told she’d had a bad reaction to Sudafed, which she was taking for a cold. When the hallucinations continued despite her mother cutting her off from Sudafed, they discovered that her “anitibiotics” were actually Ambien, the powerful sedative meant for adults. Needless to say, Riley’s mother sued the pharmacy.

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