A surgeon has been fined for accidentally amputating the wrong leg of an elderly patient in Austria.

The man, 82, ended up losing both his legs because of the error at the hospital in Freistadt in the state of Upper Austria on May 18.

He required the amputation because of his severe diabetes but doctors marked up the wrong limb while preparing him for surgery.

Nurses didn’t discover the mistake for two days when it was spotted during a routine bandage change. He then had to go under the knife again so they could amputate the right leg.

The surgeon involved faced trial for ‘grossly negligent bodily harm under particularly dangerous circumstances’ on December 1 and was fined €2,700 (£2,300.)

The widow of the patient, who died before the case came to court, was also awarded €5,000 (£4,200) in damages.

During the hearing, the 43-year-old female surgeon admitted to having ‘made a mistake’, but denied ‘gross negligence’ and blamed ‘human error’.

Dr Norbert Fritsch, director of the Freistadt Hospital, said in a press conference that ‘a chain of unfortunate circumstances’ led to the mistake.

He added: ‘We are deeply affected. As far as we know, the mix-up happened shortly before the operation before the wrong leg was marked.’

The surgeon said there had been a flaw in the chain of control in the operating theatre. She has since moved to another clinic and can appeal the judgement.

She said: ‘I knew I had to amputate the left leg’ but, when asked why she still marked the right leg before the operation, she replied: ‘I just don’t know.’

The management of the hospital involved said in a statement that ‘the causes and circumstances of this medical error have been analysed in detail’, internal procedures discussed with the team and training provided.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected]

For more stories like this, check our news page.