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Surgeon accused of leaving surgery early to attend luncheon

Many medical and surgical errors happen unintentionally, caused by some minor oversight or procedural misstep. This doesn't make them excusable, of course, but knowing that simple human error is to blame might make it easier for the victims of medical malpractice and their families to overcome the emotional trauma it can cause. So what happens when a medical error is the product of blatant negligence, recklessness or even purposeful intention? How do the injured and their loved ones overcome that knowledge?

The family of a 72-year-old man is grappling with those tough questions after a surgical error caused their husband, father and grandfather to enter a vegetative state in which he has remained since the surgery nearly two years ago. The surgeon is accused of failing to complete the surgical procedure, leaving the operating room before the surgery was complete in order to attend a luncheon. Yes, you read that right: he is believed to have left a man on the operating table with his chest open so that he wouldn't be late for lunch.

Specifically, it is alleged that the surgeon left the operating room, tasking an assistant with closing the man’s chest. Oxygen began to leave the man’s body, causing his heart to stop, and the surgeon returned to the OR to manually massage the heart. By that time, though, the damage was done.

The family has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the surgeon and the hospital, accusing them of leaving an unqualified physician to complete the man’s surgery. Neither defendant has commented, but an executive with an affiliate medical facility vehemently denies that the surgeon left the operating room at all. How the case will play out in court remains to be seen.

Source:, “Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Accuses Surgeon of Leaving Procedure Early,” Gordon Gibb, Feb. 16, 2014

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