Saturday, August 10, 2002

Hey! Here's one for the "WHAT A DUMB ASS!" File.

U.S. doctor left surgery patient to visit bank

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Aug 8 (Reuters) - A Massachusetts doctor has been suspended for leaving a patient on the operating table midway through spinal surgery so he could deposit a check at his local bank, authorities said on Thursday. The state board of medicine said David Arndt, an orthopedic surgeon, posed "an immediate threat to the public health, safety and welfare" after he left the patient last month with an open incision in his back. Arndt left behind a surgeon who was not qualified to complete the surgery, according to board documents. After his 35-minute trip to the bank, Arndt returned to the operating room and finished the surgery within a few hours. The patient, who was anesthetized during the procedure to restabilize his spine, apparently did not suffer any harm from Arndt's absence and was able to recover in the intensive care unit of Mount Auburn Hospital. The board on Wednesday suspended Arndt's license to practice medicine in Massachusetts, but he will have a chance to appeal the decision. According to a board investigator, Arndt acknowledged he had "exercised remarkably horrible judgment." Arndt explained to the investigator he had been waiting for his paycheck because he had to pay some overdue bills, and had been hoping to finish the surgery before his bank closed for the day. The procedure took longer than he expected, however, and Arndt decided to make a break for the bank midway through surgery.

Arndt, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, was not available for comment on his suspension.
8/08/02 10:49 ET
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