Surgeon fined after amputating patient’s wrong leg in Austria

An Austrian court has fined a surgeon 2700 euros ($4300) for mistakenly amputating the wrong leg of a patient.

The 43-year-old surgeon was fined at the Linz Regional Court on Wednesday local time, with half of the amount suspended, “for committing grossly negligent bodily harm,” Walter Eichinger, the court’s vice president, told CNN.

On May 18 the surgeon, who was working at a clinic in Freistadt, “carried out an inadequate clarification with the existing medical records and the photo documentation before the operation for the planned amputation of the left thigh and thus marked the right leg for the surgical intervention,” said Mr Eichinger.

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A surgical error saw a man have his wrong leg amputated in Austria. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The right thigh was then “amputated without any medical indication”.

The court awarded US$5666 ($7987) in damages to the widow of the patient, who died before the court date, for reasons unrelated to the amputation, according to Mr Eichinger.

Both the accused and the prosecutor have until 12pm on December 6 to appeal the decision. If they do not, the court’s judgment will be final from December 7.

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In May, the hospital released a statement following the incident, which it called a “tragic mistake, caused by human error.”

Following the mistake, the man needed to have the correct leg removed above the knee as well.

“We would also like to affirm that we will be doing everything to unravel the case, to investigate all internal processes and critically analyse them. Any necessary steps will immediately be taken,” the hospital said at the time.

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