Indian origin surgeon suspended for removing wrong lung

June 26th, 2008 - 9:12 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, June 26 (IANS) An Indian origin surgeon’s license has been suspended here after medical regulators found he removed the wrong lung from a patient and then tried to conceal the error. The New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners found Santusht Perera moved a portion of the patient’s right lung when he should have been removing a tumour in the left one, the state Attorney General’s Office said Wednesday.

Perera, who practises at the Hoboken University Medical Centre, was issued a two-year suspension June 5 by the medical board. He appealed to the board’s appellate court, which upheld the suspension June 12, said media reports.

The board determined that Perera’s actions constituted gross negligence and slapped him with $81,000 in fines and reimbursement costs.

After the surgery, Perera told the patient, Richard Flagg, that the right lung tissue, which was wrongfully removed, contained a life-threatening tumour even though he knew it did not. He also altered the patient’s records to show he intended to operate on the right lung.

According to state medical officials, Perera’s misconduct prevented Flagg from being properly treated. Before he died in September 2003, Flagg testified before the Congress arguing for patients’ rights in malpractice cases.

A spokesman for the Attorney General’s office said no other complaints were pending against Perera, who can appeal for an early restoration of his medical licence after six months.

An earlier high-profile case of surgical bungling in the US related to Rajeswari Ayyappan, mother of Bollywood star Sridevi. A New York surgeon operated on the wrong side of her brain in 1995 and she later died in India.

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