A surgeon who amputated the leg of an 82-year-old patient has been fined £2,300 for “grossly negligent” bodily harm.

The elderly man, who was severely diabetic, had his wrong leg amputated by surgeons during an operation in the Freistadt Hospital in Upper Austria on May 18.

The pensioner later underwent a second operation to amputate the leg that was initially supposed to be removed.

The medical mishap was discovered by nurses, two days after the operation when they were carrying out a routine bandage change.

It was later revealed that the error occurred shortly before the operation when surgeons marked up the wrong limb before heading to the operating room.

The severely diabetic elderly man died in a nursing home following the operation.

The Freistadt Hospital, in the Austrian town of Freistadt (

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OO Gesundheitsholding/Newsflash)

The female surgeon who carried out the operation in which the man’s leg was incorrectly amputated yesterday faced trial for 'grossly negligent bodily harm under particularly dangerous circumstances'.

Dr Norbert Fritsch, director of the Freistadt Hospital, said in a press conference several days after the operation that "a chain of unfortunate circumstances" was the reason behind the error.

"We are deeply affected,” he said.

“As far as we know, the mix-up happened shortly before the operation before the wrong leg was marked."

Prim Dr Norbert Fritsch, director of the Freistadt Hospital (

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OO Gesundheitsholding/Newsflash)

The lawyer for the defence underlined that the "terrible mistake" was not due to an "individual failure" on the part of his client, the 43-year-old female surgeon, but because the control system did not work.

The surgeon said she knew she had to amputate the left leg, and “just [didn’t] know why she marked up the right leg before the operation.

Speaking about the analysis of the incident, the defendant said there were errors in the planning of the surgery, as no page numbers were given in the patient file.

Because of this, a review was not possible, she said.

The Austrian hospital where doctors amputated a patient's wrong leg (

Image:

OO Gesundheitsholding/Newsflash)

During the hearing, the 43-year-old surgeon admitted to having "made a mistake", but denied "gross negligence". She spoke of "human error" instead.

A so-called team time-out, the last security measure that an operating team must observe before a surgery, did not work either. The patient was identified and the location of the operation on their body was repeated and confirmed, which is what should have happened anyway, but nobody noticed that the markings were on the wrong leg.

The surgeon said that the "team time-out" stage is now being taken more seriously.

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