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Friday, June 2, 2023

German doctor fired for letting cleaner help amputate patient’s toe

A surgeon at Mainz University Hospital went ahead with the procedure without a qualified assistant, management said

A surgeon has been fired from Mainz University Hospital in Germany after deputizing a janitor who had no medical experience to help with a toe amputation, public broadcaster SWR reported on Friday. The incident, which occurred in 2020, left the patient no worse for wear, but ended the doctor’s career. 

Norbert Pfeiffer, the chief executive of Mainz University Hospital, confirmed that the surgeon had wrongly decided to go forward with the amputation despite no qualified assistant being available. “This never should have happened,” he told local media. 

The surgery was a “routine” procedure the doctor often performed, and it was conducted around 3:30 pm local time, when many other doctors would have been around to help, Pfeiffer explained. 


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The patient had received a local anesthetic but was becoming restless, leading the doctor to ask the janitor cleaning up nearby to hold his leg down and pass the doctor surgical instruments. 

The corner-cutting maneuver was discovered when a hospital manager observed the janitor in the operating theatre, hands full of bloody gauze pads, according to local news outlet Mainzer Allgemeine Zeitung.  

Following an inquiry by the paper, the hospital admitted the cleaner had taken “a more active part” in the surgery than they had previously suspected.


May 22, 2023 at 12:30AM

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