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Hospital Fined for Surgery Death

November 6, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ A salesman helped two doctors test a piece of new medical equipment during a surgery that resulted in the death of a woman, a state report said.

Beth Israel Medical Center was fined $30,000 by the state Department of Health after it was found the doctors allowed salesman David Myers to use the machine during the surgery to remove a fibroid tumor, said Frances Tarlton, spokeswoman for the health department.

``Basically, this salesman, by participating in an operating room procedure, was practicing medicine,″ she said Friday. ``What we see here is what we would call a systemic failure. There were lots and lots of check and balances that failed in that hospital.″

The 30-year-old woman died of a heart attack after doctors pumped her with too much saline during the surgery last November, according to the report released Thursday.

``She basically drowned,″ Ms. Tarlton said.

The woman, whose name was not released, had never consented to the use of the equipment or to the presence of the salesman in the operating room, Ms. Tarlton said.

The salesman’s employer denied that he used the equipment during the surgery.

The report charged the hospital with violating the patient’s rights, submitting inaccurate medical documentation to the state and providing incomplete information about the incident to the health department.

Beth Israel apologized in a statement. Although medical equipment salesmen are permitted to observe surgeries, they are forbidden to participate in them.

The hospital put Dr. Robert Klinger on probation and suspended Dr. Marc Sklar, who was already on probation for providing poor health care to six pregnant women that resulted in the deaths of two viable fetuses, said Ms. Tarlton. Sklar later resigned from the hospital.

Telephone calls to Sklar were not returned. No listings could be located for Robert Klinger in the New York City area.

The device _ the Versapoint Bipolar Hysteroscopy Electrosurgery System _ uses electrical currents to remove fibroid tumors. Susan Odenthal, a company spokeswoman, said the cause of death had to do with an overdose of saline and nothing to do with the equipment.

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