An Alvarado woman filed a lawsuit claiming she has been left with severe and permanent injuries after a surgeon allegedly failed to remove a cancerous tumor and removed a portion of her pancreas instead.
Bernice Gomez, 63, was diagnosed in 2016 with neuroendocrine carcinoma and advised that she had malignant tumors on her left and right adrenal glands.
Surgery to remove the left adrenal gland was scheduled for Nov. 14, at Methodist Dallas Medical Center.
The procedure, which lasted seven hours, was performed by Dr. Sujeet Acharya of Texas Oncology using a da Vinci Robotic System.
At the end of the procedure, Gomez said her family was advised that although the surgery lasted longer than expected, it was successful and the adrenal gland and tumor were completely removed and that she was cancer free.
“I immediately felt worse after surgery,” Gomez said. “I had pancreatic fluid pouring into my body and I was in pain and extremely sick.”
Her lawyer, John Hart, said her health began to deteriorate.
“In fact, her condition became life threatening,” he said. “She learned weeks later that her left adrenal gland and the malignant tumor had not been removed and that actually, almost half of her pancreas had been removed during the operation.”
Acharya is certified by the American Board of Urology and is the chief of urology at Methodist Dallas Hospital.
According to his biography on the Texas Oncology website, Acharya specializes in adult urological care including treatment for erectile dysfunction, prostate health, urinary stone disease, male and female incontinence and oncology. He is skilled in all modalities and techniques, such as open surgery, minimally invasive surgery, the da Vinci Robotic System and laser therapy.
Hart said Gomez’ pancreas had not been affected by cancer.
“As a result of the needless and unnecessary removal of 40 percent of her pancreas and the failure to remove the left adrenal gland and malignant tumor, Bernice has been required to have a drain for her pancreas,” he said. “She has also been forced to undergo emergency surgeries to treat the injury to her pancreas. Treatment for her cancer has been delayed as a result of the injury to her pancreas.”
When she found out what actually happened during surgery, Gomez said she began to panic.
“I didn’t know where I stood health wise,” she said. “I didn’t know the consequences of what had happened and how long it was going to delay what was truly wrong.”
Gomez claims Acharya never personally discussed what went wrong during the surgery.
“I went in for a follow-up with him about four weeks later and he talked with me about an abscess that I had developed,” she said. “Then he turned around, walked out of the room and I never heard from him again. He never said anything about my surgery.”
Attempts to reach Acharya and Texas Oncology for comments were unsuccessful.
“It is almost unbelievable that a surgeon would remove part of the wrong organ for a cancer patient,” Hart said. “It is unconscionable that she was not advised of what happened immediately following the surgery. How in 2017 can a woman go into a speciality center and have the wrong organ taken out by a surgeon?”
Gomez said she hopes she can find answers to what went wrong during the procedure.
“I don’t want this to ever happen to anyone else,” she said. “It has been a very traumatic 11 months.”
Gomez is seeking compensation for the cost of her medical care plus any future medical needs.
“She’s not going to ever be able to work again,” Hart said. “We’ve asked for a jury trial and we plan to pursue this case to find out why in the world this happened.”
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