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Surgeon Who Left Patient Suspended

August 8, 2002

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BOSTON (AP) _ A surgeon who left a patient anesthetized and with an open incision in his back while he went to a bank several blocks away has had his medical license suspended.

The patient was not harmed, but Dr. David C. Arndt created an immediate threat when he left the patient at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge to go to a bank in Harvard Square, the state Board of Registration in Medicine said Wednesday.

The board said Arndt, a Harvard-trained orthopedic surgeon, was six hours into a spine operation when he told the operating staff he needed to ``step out.″ The board said he returned about 35 minutes later and finished the operation.

Another surgeon who had walked into the operating area to deliver Arndt’s paycheck told the board Arndt asked him to stay for a few minutes while he took a break. The other surgeon, who was not credentialed to perform the surgery and had not scrubbed in, assumed Arndt was simply going to the restroom, the board said.

Arndt later said that the surgery had run longer than he expected and that he had to get the check to the bank because he was in a financial crisis and had to pay bills.

His lawyer, Claudia Hunter, said Thursday that Arndt would appeal the board’s decision.

``He regrets his actions of July 10 and apologizes to his patient,″ Hunter said. ``At the time of the events, the patient was stable and the surgery was successful.″

Arndt was suspended by Mount Auburn Hospital last month. He is also licensed to practice medicine in Louisiana.

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