An Austrian hospital amputated the wrong leg of a patient, blaming human error for what it called a “tragic mistake”.
The elderly patient is suffering from many illnesses, the Freistadt Clinic, in a town of the same name near the Czech border, said in a statement.
Previous sicknesses have affected the patient's legs, to the point that his left leg required amputation.
“We are deeply shocked that on Tuesday, May 18, despite quality assurance standards, the wrong leg of an 82-year old man ... was amputated,” the clinic said, adding that the mistake was first noticed during a bandage change on Thursday morning.
The error appears to have been made shortly before the operation, when the leg that was to be amputated was marked, the clinic said.
“Unfortunately the mistake, in which the right leg was removed instead of the left, occurred as a result of a sequence of unfortunate circumstances,” it said, adding that it was investigating what happened and would review its standards.
“We have to find out how this failure, this mistake could happen. I would like to apologise publicly here,” the clinic's medical director Norbert Fritsch told reporters.
The man reportedly didn't notice the error, due to his medical condition, and had to be informed of the botched operation by his two daughters.
The patient has been offered psychological assistance and must still undergo another operation to remove his left leg from mid-thigh.
“The operation is planned shortly,” the clinic said.
The doctor who performed the procedure is on leave at her own request, Austrian news outlet Heute reported.
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