An Austrian doctor found guilty of gross negligence has been fined $3,060 after amputating the wrong leg of a patient earlier this year. The mistake—in which the unnamed surgeon removed her patient’s right leg instead of his left—was only discovered during a routine bandage check two days after the May procedure. The patient, an 82-year-old man with limited articulation due to his medical condition, was asked but unable to confirm the correct leg prior to the surgery. He later had to have his other leg removed above the knee. The court suspended half of the surgeon’s fine, and awarded $5,660 to the widow of the patient, who died before the case was tried.
When asked in court why she had marked the right leg for amputation, the doctor replied, “I just don’t know.” She attributed the mistake to “human error” and a flaw in the clinic’s chain of command. The hospital said that “the causes and circumstances of this medical error have been analyzed in great detail,” with internal procedures and training methods changed. The doctor has been moved to another hospital.