Surgeon fined in Austria for amputating wrong leg

A judge found the 43-year-old surgeon guilty of gross negligence. PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

VIENNA (AFP) - An Austrian court has fined a surgeon for amputating the wrong leg of an elderly patient, a spokesman for the tribunal in the northern city of Linz said on Wednesday (Dec 1).

While the 43-year-old defendant said her actions were due to "human error", the judge found her guilty of gross negligence and fined her €2,700 (S$4,000), with half the amount suspended, the spokesman said.

The surgeon had marked the wrong leg of the 82-year-old patient for amputation ahead of the operation in May in the central town of Freistadt, only noticing the mistake two days after carrying out the surgery.

The court awarded €5,000 in damages plus interest to the widow of the patient, who died before the case came to court.

The surgeon said there had been a flaw in the chain of control in the operating theatre.

She has since moved to another clinic and can appeal the judgement.

The management of the institution involved said in a statement that "the causes and circumstances of this medical error have been analysed in detail", internal procedures discussed with the team and training provided.

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