Woman Sues Yale-New Haven Hospital After Doctors Remove Wrong Rib: Lawsuit

A 60-year-old Milford woman has filed a lawsuit against Yale-New Haven Hospital, Yale University and two physicians, claiming she was forced to go through two surgeries in one day after her surgeon-in-training removed the wrong rib and then lied about why the surgical team needed to operate again.

Deborah Craven was admitted to Yale-New Haven Hospital on May 18 for doctors to remove a painful and potentially cancerous lesion on her eighth rib, according to the lawsuit.

A Yale attending physician and other members of Yale-New Haven Hospital staff were supposed to perform the surgery, but a resident was added to the surgery for training purposes without Craven’s knowledge, the suit says.

Before the surgery, radiologists marked the rib to be removed by placing metallic coils onto it and injecting a marking dye into her skin and the surrounding tissue, lawyers said, but the wrong rib was removed.

When Craven woke up, she was in pain and it continued into the night, so hospital staff ordered an X-ray.

It showed the metal markers were still in Craven’s rib and the surgery had been performed on the seventh rib, rather than the eighth, according to the lawsuit, which goes on to claim the resident tried to cover up the mistake and said “not enough rib” was removed.

Then Craven was told she needed immediate surgery.

“The fact that the surgical team operated on the wrong rib despite a clear indication of the proper site is, of course, negligent,” Craven’s attorney, Joel Faxon, of Faxon Law Group in New Haven, said in a statement. “But the fact that a cardiothoracic surgeon in training would make the outrageous claim that ‘not enough rib had been taken’ really takes this to another level of culpability. Making the patient undergo another surgery the same day, without owning up to the real medical reason for the repeat surgery is just plain deceitful. Absent the lying my client never would have instituted a lawsuit. As the old adage goes the cover up is worse than the crime.”

The lawsuit claims negligence and unfair trade practices.

NBC Connecticut reached out to Yale-New Haven Hospital, which said it "recognized that an error was made."

In a statement, it said: 

“Yale-New Haven Hospital and Yale Medical Group are committed to providing the safest and highest quality of care possible. However, even in the best organizations medical errors may occur. When they do, our goal is to acknowledge them, learn from them, and ensure that we minimize any chance that they ever occur again. With respect to the case of Ms. Craven, we recognized that an error was made, we informed and apologized to the patient, and we immediately reported it to the Connecticut Department of Public Health.”

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