Sixty-year-old Deborah Craven has filed a lawsuit against Yale New Haven Hospital for removing part of the wrong rib and then attempting a cover up.

Craven says that doctors made the mistake during surgery, and then covered up the mistake. The surgery was supposed to remove a precancerous lesion from her eighth rib, but doctors removed part of the seventh rib instead, writes Elizabeth Cohen for CBS.

Hospital bed Yale Doctors

Patient files complaint against Yale New Haven Hospital

A complaint has been filed in Connecticut Superior Court related to the surgery last year. Craven has since undergone a second operation to remove the lesion.

“We recognized that an error was made, we informed and apologized to the patient, and we immediately reported it to the Connecticut Department of Health,” according to the statement Yale issued last week.

However lawyers for Craven say that an apology was never received and one of the surgeons attempted to cover up the mistake. The error was only uncovered after Craven told doctors she was in pain after surgery.

Surgeons attempted cover up of mistake

After performing an X-ray Dr. Anthony Kim, an assistant professor of surgery at Yale, told Craven and her husband that surgeons had removed the wrong rib, said Joel Faxon, Craven’s lawyer.

However shortly afterwards the couple were told something completely different by surgeon Dr. Ricardo Quarrie. He reportedly told the couple that surgeons “had not removed enough rib during the surgery and, for that reason, she would need to undergo another surgery.”

“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,” Faxon wrote in a press release. Quarrie is described as a “resident/fellow” at Yale.

Despite the fact that the cravens requested that Quarrie not be involved in the second operation, medical records reveal that he was. Quarrie refused to comment when contacted via email.

Yale maintains mistake was acknowledged

Yale released a statement in which it claimed that the hospital is “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.”

According to the complaint the rib had been marked with metal coils and dye before the surgery. Surgeons should therefore have been aware which one they were to operate on.

The mistake should have been apparent immediately after the operation as those metal coils had not been removed. The complaint also accuses the surgeons of failing to perform an X-ray after the procedure to check that the process had been completed.

Craven is seeking up to $15,000 in damages for the mistake and the cover up. The fact that an honest mistake was made would surely not be a huge issue had the doctors not allegedly attempted to cover up their failures.

“Absent the lying my client never would have instituted a lawsuit. As the old adage goes the cover up is worse than the crime,” Joel Faxon said.

A spokesman for Yale-New Haven Hospital said that “even in the best organizations medical errors occur.”

It will be up to a judge to decide  if Craven will receive damages from the hospital.