Austria Surgeon Fined $3,000 for Amputating Patient’s Wrong Leg

  • A surgeon in Linz, Austria, removed her patient’s right leg when the left one was supposed to go. 
  • She was found guilty of grossly negligent bodily harm, and fined $3,000.
  • The patient, who has since died of unrelated causes, still had to have his left leg removed after. 

A surgeon in Austria was fined 2,700 euros ($3,000) on Wednesday after she was found to have amputated a patient’s wrong leg, local reports say.

The 43-year-old surgeon, who under Austrian law cannot be named, was found guilty of “grossly negligent bodily harm” for the error at Klinikum Freistadt in Linz, according to the Austrian newspaper Volksblatt. 

The wrong leg came off on May 18 due to a “disastrous combination of circumstances,” according to a statement issued by the hospital soon after the blunder, which was sent to Insider. 

The surgeon marked up the right leg instead of the left before surgery, a mistake that was only discovered when the patient’s dressings were being changed the next day, the statement read. 

“The patient, as well as his family, were immediately informed and psychological support was made available,” said the hospital’s May statement.

The surgeon told Linz Regional Court during her trial, according to Volksblatt: “I knew I had to amputate the left leg.” When asked why she marked the right leg, she repeatedly said: “I just don’t know,” the paper reported.

The patient still had to have his left leg amputated in the middle of the thigh, according to the hospital.

According to Volksblatt, he died later of unrelated causes. 

The surgeon is no longer working at the Klinikum Freistadt at her own request, but had not been fired, hospital spokesperson Jutta Oberweger told Insider Friday.

“The mistake is irreversible, but according to our company culture, we will not destroy the life of our employee, she will get a second chance,” Oberweger said.

“We apologize and deeply regret what happened in Klinikum Freistadt in spring this year, but we also have a responsibility for our staff members,” she continued. 

The surgeon denied the charge of grossly negligent bodily harm, with her defense lawyer arguing it was human error combined with poor institutional safeguards, Volksblatt reported. The hospital’s May statement said it was reviewing and improving its practices. 

The surgeon has until noon on December 6 to appeal the decision, CNN reported.

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