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Doctor Who Cut Off Wrong Leg Is Defended by Colleagues

January 28, 2011
TAMPA, Fla., Sept. 16 — A Tampa surgeon who has been widely vilified and ridiculed for mistakenly amputating the wrong leg of a patient on Feb. 20 sought this week to regain both his license to practice medicine and a measure of his once-solid reputation.
In a three-day hearing before the state official who will make recommendations on his professional future, the surgeon, Dr. Rolando R. Sanchez, and his lawyer, Michael Blazicek, publicly presented their side of the story for the first time.
They said that a series of errors by other hospital personnel and the severely diseased condition of both legs led Dr. Sanchez to believe that he was operating on the correct leg.
The blackboard to which surgeons refer in the operating room at University Community Hospital in Tampa listed the wrong leg for amputation, as did the operating room schedule and the hospital computer system, testimony revealed. By the time Dr. Sanchez entered the operating room, the wrong leg had been sterilized and draped for surgery.
Some doctors who appeared as witnesses said that the leg Dr. Sanchez removed was in such poor shape that it would probably have been amputated in the future.
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