Thursday, September 16, 2010

Accidental Circumcision--That's Gonna Cost You Some Skin

Reporter Fred Tasker at the Miami Herald has the following report about the South Miami Hospital and doctor who accidentally circumcised a local newborn.   Ouch.  You bet, it's going to cost a few dollars:

"[M]ario Viera (pic, right--not Mario, but isn't he cute!, since it is the 56th anniversary of my circum....well, you permit me license)-- was accidentally circumcised without [his Mom's] consent at South Miami Hospital when he was 8 days old.  [The Mother is asking]`How could this happen?'  No male in her family has been circumcised for years, Mrs. Delgado sa[ys.]  `I didn't want this for him. I'm opposed to circumcision. They didn't have the right to do it.'

The hospital has said it is `deeply sorry' and vowed to take steps to prevent the mistake from happening again, but Delgado says that's not enough. She filed suit against the hospital Monday and a criminal battery report with South Miami police Wednesday.

The case of the accidental circumcision quickly created controversy: Delgado's attorney was invited to speak at a national conference on crime victims and has been contacted by media as far away as the United Arab Emirates and anti-circumcision groups, including a local organization planning a demonstration at the hospital Friday.

`It's a big deal,' Delgado said Wednesday, in her attorney's office. `In the future, he's going to ask why his dad is one way and he's different.'  Delgado says she signed no consent form for the circumcision, and told doctors and nurses she didn't want it. The hospital said it misread a consent form.

Her Coral Gables attorney, Spencer Aronfeld, filed a civil personal injury lawsuit against the hospital in Miami-Dade Circuit Court Monday, claiming unspecified damages, and a civil battery suit against Dr. Mary Jean Pazos, who Aronfeld said performed the circumcision. Pazos could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The baby at the center of the dispute is still less than 2 months old. Mario Viera was born at South Miami Hospital July 24, and kept in the intensive care unit so doctors could fight an infection, Delgado says. On Aug. 2, she says she entered his hospital room and noticed a vial lying beside him in his bed. A nurse told her it was Tylenol for the pain from his circumcision.

The hospital later apologized in a prepared statement: `The baby's circumcision was an unfortunate mistake caused by a misread consent form. As soon as the error was discovered, the doctor and nurses let the family know what had occurred. We also immediately implemented new processes to ensure this mistake will not occur again. The procedure itself was performed following appropriate surgical guidelines and the baby didn't have any complications. Nevertheless, we're all deeply sorry that this happened.'

Male circumcision dates to antiquity, especially among Jewish and Muslim groups. Today, many medical groups take a neutral position on it.

In the United States, infant male circumcision peaked in the 1960s at about 75 percent and has dropped to under 60 percent today, according to the National Health and Social Life Survey and other sources. Newer studies suggest rates may have fallen to as low as 33 percent, said Dr. Lee Sanders, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

`As a practicing pediatrician, my rates have dropped steadily ever since 1999, when the American Academy of Pediatrics changed its position from positive to something more neutral,' he said. The AAP website today says: `Scientific studies show some medical benefits of circumcision. However, these benefits are not sufficient for the AAP to recommend that all infant boys be circumcised.' The American Academy of Family Physicians website takes a similar position: `Studies about the benefits of circumcision have provided conflicting results. The AAFP believes parents should discuss with their son's doctor the potential benefits and the risks involved when making their decision.'

NOCIRC South Florida, a local anti-circumcision group, plans an all-day demonstration Friday at South Miami Hospital, according to member Enith Hernandez. The group's website,, calls infant circumcision `very painful'' and ``not medically necessary.'

Georganne Chapin, president of Intact America, another anti-circumcision group that has contacted Aronfeld, said her group opposes the procedure even for religious purposes.  `Nobody has the right to remove a healthy body part from another person,' she said. `Babies are not born with a set of religious beliefs.' The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added to the controversy by initiating a process to come up with its own recommendation about infant male circumcision -- with hints it might become more favorable to it because research has shown it can reduce the risk of HIV infection during sex.

Aronfeld, who spoke on the topic of circumcision at the annual conference of the National Center for Victims of Crime in New Orleans on Tuesday, said he is trying to not to express his own opinion on the procedure. But he added: `So many people are opposed to circumcision,'  he said. `I think there's a groundswell here.'"
The last post on circumcision garnered quite a few comments and I appreciated the education I received on the subject, and the debate. 

This was boneheaded.  The hospital and doctor involved need to look at their checklist policies and figure out where they misfired.


  1. Excuse us, BL. We need clarification. By "vowing to take steps to make sure it doesn't happen again," is the hospital assuring the parents that they will not circumcise young Mario a second time?

  2. I'm pretty confident, that this South Miami Hospital is getting out of the trim-biz, okiedoke!