The family of Virginia Edmondson, one of the two patients involved in last week's mixup in surgery at Graduate Hospital, has hired a lawyer and said today it plans to sue the hospital.
The husband of Annie Robinson, 58, the other patient, said he would wait until his wife is "up and walking again" before deciding whether to take legal action.
Wesley Robinson, 60, whose wife's surgeon began to correct a ruptured disc before discovering that he was operating on the wrong patient, said he had received telephone calls from "five or six lawyers" offering their services in a malpractice action.
Albert Edmondson Jr. said his family had retained a lawyer and would sue in his mother's case. He declined to talk further.
Mrs. Robinson was to undergo surgery to remove the parathyroid glands in the front of her neck, which had been overproducing calcium and contributing to her kidney stone condition.
Mr. Edmondson was to receive a laminectomy, in which cartilage between the vertebrae at the back of her neck was to be removed.
For reasons that are unclear, and which the hospital declines to discuss, the two women started to receive the operation intended for the other. Neither procedure was completed, because the surgeons could see that the patient before them did not require it. But the surgeon did find and remove a benign nodule found near Mrs. Edmondson's thyroid, according to a hospital board member.
Barton Post, the hospital's attorney, said the hospital has told the two women that they will not be charged for any part of their hospital stay.