Does it matter which lung?

2/1/2010 Update:

Botch-Doc can cut at HUMC again

Remember this story about Dr. Santusht Perera, the surgeon that removed the wrong lung from a patient, and then covered it up? (Meadowlands Hospital in 2000)

Well he’s back “practicing” surgery again at Hoboken University Medcial Center after the NJ Board of Medical Examiners conditionally re-instated his license back on July 22, 2009. Part of this process was to monitor Dr. Perera’s performance on the operating table, to be sure “he didn’t screw up again.” After 10 surgeries without fudged paperwork or missing limbs, he’s now back in full-force at HUMC.

My questions are:

  • Is the NJ Board of Medical Examiners also corrupt? Who lets someone (who you trust with your life) back after being found guilty of covering up his blunder?
  • Why would HUMC CEO Spiros Hatiras just unconditionally accept this decision from the NJ BME without challenging it? (He claimed he had no choice, or face a big-bad scary lawsuit from the doctor).
  • How does having a quack doctor on staff help HUMC’s reputation?

6/26/2008:

Does it matter which lung?

Apparently it does, since one surgeon, who often works out of Hoboken University Medical Center, gets suspended for being “biologically dyslexic.”

From Fox News:

hoboken-surgeon-suspended-wrong-lung-surgery-hoboken-university-medical-center-june-2008.jpg

License Suspended After He Removes Wrong Lung

A New Jersey surgeon’s medical license was suspended after state regulators found he removed the wrong lung from a patient, then tried to conceal the error.

The State Board of Medical Examiners found Dr. Santusht Perera moved a portion of the patient’s right lung when he should have been removing a tumor in the left lung, the state Attorney General’s Office said Wednesday.

Perera, according to the board, then told the patient that the right lung contained a life-threatening tumor, though there was no such growth. He also altered the patient’s records to show he intended to operate on the right lung.

The board determined that Perera’s actions constituted gross negligence.

The board said the “tragic error” could have been prevented if Dr. Perera had taken “the most basic and minimal of actions that should be taken by a surgeon in advance of surgery.”

Perera, who practices at Hoboken University Medical Center, was assessed $81,000 in fines and reimbursement costs.

His lawyer, Michael J. Keating, is on vacation and not available for comment, his office said Wednesday.

David Wald, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said no other complaints were pending against the doctor.

Under the ruling, Perera can appeal for an early restoration of his medical license after six months.

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21 Comments on "Does it matter which lung?"


Member
7 years 2 months ago

Everything’s OK. Nothing to see here folks.

Member
HansBrix
7 years 2 months ago

How do such highly compensated people make such easily-avoidable tragic mistakes?

This is not like forgetting to carry the 1 in some obscure calculation. This is more like building a house and forgetting all about plumbing and wiring.

Yet we hear about these kinds of errors all the time. It was even spoofed on Malcolm in the Middle.

Member
chloe
7 years 2 months ago

[quote comment=”89946″]How do such highly compensated people make such easily-avoidable tragic mistakes?

This is not like forgetting to carry the 1 in some obscure calculation. This is more like building a house and forgetting all about plumbing and wiring.

Yet we hear about these kinds of errors all the time. It was even spoofed on Malcolm in the Middle.[/quote]

seriously. Makes me think that if I ever go in for surgery, might not be a bad idea to draw on myself with a permanent sharpi. “Left Lung Only!!”

Member
oceanbloo
7 years 2 months ago

My brother had a serious operation (not at HUMC). Prior to the surgery, the surgeon marked exactly which side of his body would be operated on with a big black marker. It was something that was checked and double-checked many times, by medical personnel, as well as by my brother and us. (At that time, there were also some stories about surgeons mixing things up floating around, and you can never be too careful when you’re going under.)

So, this makes you wonder not just about this doctor, but about any other medical personnel working on this poor soul. Where were the checks and balances? Mistakes happen, even (unfortunately) life-and-death mistakes, but 1) why didn’t anyone else catch this, it’s not like the doctor worked alone and 2) the covering up of the mistake is the really infuriating part.

Member
7 years 2 months ago

oh, so after I post this on the HUMC page then this gets its own headline huh?