BRISTOL – An orthopedic surgeon has been fined after operating on the wrong knee of a patient during a surgery in 2018 at Bristol Hospital.
The action was taken by the state Department of Public Health Connecticut Medical Examining Board during its regular meeting Tuesday.
According to DPH documents, the Starling Orthopedics surgeon, Christopher Betz, performed surgery on the left knee of a patient on Sept. 14, 2018, at Bristol Hospital, while the right knee was actually the planned site for the surgery. DPH documents further say he “failed to follow the pre-incision time-out protocol and independently verify the laterality of the procedure.”
As a result, Betz was issued a civil fine of $5,000 and had his license to practice as a physician and surgeon in Connecticut reprimanded. He has also taken continuing education coursework in preventing error and near misses in surgery.
According to the DPH, Betz chose not to contest the allegations of wrongdoing, while also not admitting any guilt.
Bristol Hospital officials on Wednesday disputed what they called a misleading media report that indicated Betz’s error wasn’t reported to the DPH’s Licensing and Investigations Unit.
"Bristol Hospital informed the Department of Public Health’s Facility Licensing and Investigations Section (FLIS) of the incident on Sept. 21, 2018, and submitted a corrective action plan to DPH within the allotted timeframe to do so,” Bristol Health officials said in a statement. “Hospitals must report adverse events to FLIS via their web-based reporting system. Adverse events submitted to FLIS are reviewed and investigated based on the case.”
“This case was investigated during our licensure visit in January 2019, and at that time it was determined by FLIS that they would be alerting the Practitioner Licensing and Investigations Section (PLIS),” the statement continued. “In this case, the submission made to PLIS came directly from FLIS based on their investigation, and not from the hospital. Bristol Hospital followed statutory requirements in alerting the incident to FLIS via the proper channels."
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.