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German surgeon fired after getting hospital cleaner to assist amputation

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BERLIN (AP) — Officials at a hospital in western Germany have expressed regret after it emerged that one of their surgeons got a cleaner to assist in a toe amputation.

Public broadcaster SWR reported Friday that the incident at the Mainz University Hospital, which happened in 2020, didn’t result in any complications to the patient but the doctor has since been fired.

The hospital’s chief executive, Norbert Pfeiffer, said the surgeon wrongly decided to go ahead with the routine procedure even though no qualified assistant was available, SWR reported.

When the patient, who had received a local anesthetic, became restless the doctor asked a nearby cleaner to hold the man’s leg and pass surgical instruments, according to local daily Mainzer Allgemeine Zeitung. The paper reported that the cleaner had no medical experience.

The incident came to light after a hospital manager spotted the cleaner — bloody gauze pads in hand — in the operating theater, it reported.

“This should never have happened,” German news agency dpa quoted Pfeiffer as saying.

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