Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Decided to Have Surgery Basedon Somebody Else's X-Ray

I was lying there doped up on morphine when several hospital staffers (don't ask me if they were doctors, nurses, or visiting clowns) put a laptop computer in front of me and said the broken clavicle on the screen was mine. The clavicle had 3 big pieces and about 20 little chips. It didn't look like it could grow back together easily. One of the staffers told me they could get a surgeon to fix it the next day. All I had to do was sign a form. My husband, the alien, called a doctor friend of his, who called up the x-ray on his computer screen and said, "Do the surgery." I signed the form. I had the surgery.

I had the usual side-effects. The skin on my shoulder and upper arm are numb. My shoulder is now straight instead of sloping. My range of motion is reduced, and I'm weaker. But supposedly rehab will heal all. I wasn't upset about these things. I'm an exercise junky. And a stretching junky.

The surgeon proudly showed me an x-ray of the finished job. I was disappointed to see that he had only saved 2 big pieces. But done is done and I didn't say anything. The 2 pieces were held together with a strip of metal and screws running through my bones.

The hospital offers one free set of records to every patient. I requested mine. They arrived last night. The x-rays came on a set of CDs. I looked for that x-ray of the shattered clavicle. It wasn't there. Instead there was an x-ray of a clavicle with a simple break -- into two pieces. No wonder the surgeon only saved 2 pieces. There were only 2 pieces.

I mentioned this to a friend who is a nurse. She said she wasn't surprised that they showed me the wrong x-ray.

I agreed to surgery based on an x-ray that was of somebody else's broken clavicle. If I'd seen only 2 pieces, I'd have demanded more information. I might still have chosen surgery. But now I'll never know.


  1. GeezerChick, this is outrageous. Also I want to say unbelievable, but of course it is not. It sounds too like they never told you, "Heh...hey...that X-ray we showed you before? Well, it warn't yers..." They opened you up and saw a different clavicle, shrugged, and carried on!

  2. Visions of rainbow covered lawsuits dance through my head.

  3. alisonrut, in many ways I'm relieved that my real x-ray shows a much healthier bone than that fragile thing in the original x-ray. But, yes, I would have appreciated an apology for their mistake.

    Jacqueline, I don't have time to go suing people just because they make infuriating mistakes. I want my life back. No matter what the x-ray looked like, I do have a broken collar bone.

    I am suing the insurance company of driver who hit me because under PA law, if his insurance company can delay for 2 years, they don't have to pay anything. I want them to pay my medical bills.