Doctor Asked Janitor to Help With Toe Amputation, Gets Fired
"Should never have happened."
A surgeon in Germany was fired after asking a janitor to help him amputate a patient's toe, and hospital officials have apologized for the incident, broadcaster SWR reported last Friday. The incident occurred at the Mainz University Hospital in 2020 but only recently came to light. Read on to find out what happened to the patient and about another unauthorized amputation coming to Wisconsin court soon.
The surgeon decided to go ahead with the routine procedure even though no qualified assistants were available. The patient received a local anesthetic, but when he became restless, the doctor asked a nearby janitor to hold the man's leg and hand him surgical instruments, a local newspaper reported.
The hospital's chief executive, Norbert Pfeiffer, said the doctor was wrong to perform the procedure under those circumstances. "This should never have happened," said Pfeiffer, according to German news agency DPA.
The incident was discovered when a hospital manager saw the janitor in the operating room, holding bloody gauze, DPA reported. The cleaner had no medical experience.
The patient didn't experience complications from the procedure, but the surgeon was fired, news outlets reported.
In November 2022, a nurse in Wisconsin was accused of amputating a patient's foot without permission, because she wanted to display it in her family's taxidermy shop. NBC News reported that Mary K. Brown removed the frostbitten right foot of a 62-year-old patient at Spring Valley Health and Rehabilitation Center on May 27, according to a criminal complaint.
The victim was taken to the facility in March 2022. He had fallen at his home, which had no heat. Freezing temperatures caused him to develop "severe frostbite' on both of his feet, the complaint said. His feet became necrotic, a condition in which skin and tissue had died.
According to the criminal complaint, Brown cut off the patient's foot in what she said was an act of compassion. The man had been visited by hospice workers and was not expected to survive. The complaint states that Brown used scissors to cut a tendon, which amputated the foot altogether; the body part was placed in a freezer, to be sent with the man when he died.
One nurse told an investigator that Brown said her family had a taxidermy shop and that "she was going to preserve the foot and put it on display with a sign that said, 'Wear your boots, kids.'" The man died a few days after the amputation. After an investigation was launched into the man's death in June 2022, Brown was fired and criminally charged.
Brown's criminal hearing has been scheduled for this month. She has pleaded not guilty to three felonies, including intentional abuse of patients, physical abuse of an elderly person and mayhem.
In March, the man's sister told KTSP: "I just don't understand, if you are a nurse, you are supposed to care, and if you care, you go through the proper channels to get permission, to do something like that, period," she said. "There was no excuse for that, none."
In March, an Idaho OB-GYN resigned after going viral in a video in which she insulted her patients. In one tweeted video that has attracted more than 2 million views, Dr. Rachel Oliver said her patients were "(expletive) stupid and fat."
Oliver was employed by OGA, which offers women's services, including pregnancy care and STD testing, among other gynecological services, its website states. "Dr. Oliver is no longer affiliated with OGA Idaho. She submitted her resignation earlier this month, which was accepted," Executive Director Nicole Bradshaw told the Idaho Press.