Surgeon who amputated wrong leg fined by Austrian court

Medic found guilty of gross negligence after removing 82-year-old's right leg, instead of his left

Doctor removed right leg of the 82-year-old patient instead of left leg. Photo: JC Gellidon

A surgeon in Austria has been fined for amputating the wrong leg of her patient.

She removed the 82-year-old patient's right leg instead of his left leg, with the mistake discovered two days later.

The surgeon, 43, was found guilty of gross negligence and fined €2,700 ($3,055) at a court in the northern city of Linz on Wednesday.

The widow of the patient was also awarded €5,000 in damages. The patient died before the case came to court.

The surgeon said her actions were a result of "human error".

The patient attended the clinic in Freistadt last May to have his left leg amputated, but the surgeon marked the wrong limb, AFP reported.

The mistake was identified during a routine bandage change and the patient was told he would have to have his other leg amputated as well.

Flaw in chain of command

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

The clinic said "the causes and circumstances of this medical error have been analysed in detail", with internal procedures discussed with the team and training provided.

When the surgeon was asked why she marked the patient's right leg for amputation, she said: "I just don't know", Austrian newspaper Kurier reported.

The surgeon has since moved to another clinic. Half of her fine has been suspended.

Updated: December 2nd 2021, 7:58 AM