Dr. Marguerite Vigliani, an Obstetrician/Gynecologist in Providence, Rhode Island, discovered and immediately reported the mix-up after the March, 2005 surgery, prompting a medical board investigation.
According to the state board, as reported by The Providence Journal and The Boston Globe, the patient was a 53-year-old woman who scheduled a vaginal hysterectomy at Providence’s Women & Infants’ Hospital after consulting with Dr. Vigliani. A second patient with the same last name also came in that day and scheduled surgery to have her ovaries removed.
On the day of the first patient’s surgery, Dr. Vigliani went over a pre-op checklist with her operating room staff to ensure they would perform the proper procedure. During this meeting, the charge nurse pointed out a discrepancy between the scheduled surgery and the patient’s signed consent forms. The nurse informed Dr. Vigliani that the patient only consented to a vaginal hysterectomy.
According to the medical board, Dr. Vigliani was positive that the woman also wanted her ovaries removed when she spoke with her right before the surgery. The doctor convinced the charge nurse that the discrepancy was simply due to a “clerical error” in the paperwork. The charge nurse eventually allowed the operation to proceed.
Two other medical staff members were present during Dr. Vigliani’s pre-op consultation with the patient; however, they “could not confirm or deny” whether the doctor had in fact gone over both procedures with the patient.
"It's possible that set of events in her office impacted on the doctor's memory," said Robert Crausman, chief administrative officer for the Rhode Island Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline.
“Ultimately, the charge nurse, who has a supervisory role over the operating rooms, allowed both surgeries to proceed,” he said. He claims the operation couldn’t have commenced without the charge nurse presiding.
After the surgery, Dr. Vigliani learned that her patient never wanted her ovaries removed. She promptly reported the issue to the hospital administration and the Rhode Island medical board. Crausman recognized that Dr. Vigliani demonstrated a lack of judgment by performing the inappropriate operation, but further remarked, “If there's going to be a safer health care environment tomorrow than we have today, we have to encourage self-reporting of errors and mistakes, which is exactly what she did."
The medical board found Dr. Vigliani in violation, but because the she showed personal integrity by coming forward, the board elected not to impose any type of punishment or penalty on her.
"This is a doctor who has a long track record of good practice," he said. He claims that Dr. Vigliani is working hard to prevent possible errors in the future.
Dr. Vigliani has not responded to any calls placed to her office for comments.
In addition to Women & Infants, Dr. Vigliani also has hospital privileges at Roger Williams Medical Center and Rhode Island Hospital, both considered among the top healthcare facilities in Rhode Island.