Surgeon removed the wrong kidney, is put on probation

Orange County surgeon disciplined after removing patient's healthy kidney

An Orange County surgeon has been disciplined after mistakenly removing a patient's healthy kidney instead of his diseased kidney during surgery.

After Dr. Charles Streit admitted removing the wrong kidney, the Medical Board of California ordered him to complete three years of probation.

The board said the Fullerton surgeon's errors "represent an extreme departure from the standard of care," requiring further surgery and putting the patient's "future renal function in jeopardy."

It all started on Sept. 18, 2011, when a 59-year-old inmate from Terminal Island Correctional Facility in San Pedro was taken to the Long Beach Memorial Medical Center for tests that revealed a mass on his left kidney, according to a complaint filed this year to the board.

A radiologist evaluated the mass, which he suspected was renal cell carcinoma.

Streit, a urologist, examined the inmate and performed surgery to remove his left kidney on Feb. 7, 2012, at St. Jude's Medical Center in Fullerton.

But Streit mistakenly removed the inmate's right kidney instead, according to reports.

The board said Streit was expected to positively identify and confirm the location of the inmate's diseased kidney before surgery.

Instead, Streit proceeded with surgery even though he didn't have access to the inmate's medical records that day and relied solely on his recollection of the tumor's location, the board said.

"As the surgeon, it was Dr. Streit's sole obligation to carefully review the radiographic and other documentation so as to avoid this mistake," the board said.

As a result of his actions, the board said the inmate "suffered a serious and unavoidable complication."

During probation, Streit can continue to practice medicine but must follow rules and conditions as well as enroll in a wrong-site surgery course. 

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