South Florida surgeon fined $3,000 for mistakenly removing woman's kidney

Mistaking pelvic mass as cancerous, Dr. Ramon Vazquez removed kidney in 2016

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A South Florida surgeon has agreed to pay a $3,000 fine for accidentally removing a woman's kidney during a procedure, mistaking it for a cancerous mass.

Dr. Ramon Vazquez, a West Palm Beach surgeon, "unnecessarily removed" Maureen Pacheco's "fully-functioning left kidney" during back surgery at Wellington Regional Medical Center in April 2016, according to a lawsuit filed in November 2017.

Palm Beach County court records show that a settlement was reached last year.

According to an administrative complaint filed by the Florida Department of Health in December 2017, Vazquez was performing the surgery when he "noted a pelvic mass and provided a presumptive diagnosis of a gynecological malignancy, lymphoma and/or other metastatic disease." The pelvic mass "was clipped, transected and removed in its entirety."

But a pathologist at the hospital later confirmed that the pelvic mass "was an intact pelvic kidney."

The Florida Department of Health concluded that Vazquez's diagnosis was not related to Pacheco's medical condition "and was therefore a medically unnecessary procedure."

According to a final order by the Florida Board of Medicine last month, Vazquez must pay a $3,000 fine and give a one-hour lecture on wrong-site surgery to the hospital medical staff. He must also complete three hours of medical education on preoperative evaluation of surgical patients and pay $4,817.90 in court costs.