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On June 6, 2008 a Morris County (N.J.) surgeon had his license suspended by the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners for two years. The doctor, Morris County surgeon, Santusht Perera, M.D. practiced at the Hoboken University Medical Center . The doctor removed portions of his patient’s incorrect lung during surgery and then lied about it.

In finding Dr. Perera negligent, the Board of Medical Examiners stated that “the tragic error which occurred to this patient could have been prevented had Dr. Perera simply engaged in the most basic and minimal actions that should be taken by a surgeon in caring for his patient”. Not only was he found negligent, the Board also concluded that Dr. Perera lied to hide his mistake by telling his patient that the right lung tissue that was mistakenly removed contained a life threatening tumor – even though the doctor knew that there was no tumor. Dr. Perera also attempted to alter the medical records to hide his error by attempting to show that it was his plan to operate on the right lung when he actually was trying to remove a tumor in the left lung.

As a result of this negligence, Dr. Perera’s patient has compromised lung function which will have serious long-term medical consequences. The patient will require a lifetime of care, be limited in his ability to earn a living to provide for his family’s well being and, in all probability, will have a shortened life expectancy. Hopefully, a jury will reasonably compensate the victim for all he had to endure.

If the so-called tort-reformers and doctors had their way, any harm done by this incompetent doctor would have been capped at $250,000. What is the rationale for helping someone evade responsibility by limiting his or her exposure? Everyone should be personally responsible for the harms that they cause.

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