Florida orthopedic surgeon fined for 2nd wrong-site surgery


A physician in Tamarac, Fla., began to perform surgery on a patient's incorrect knee, almost exactly 21 years after performing surgery on the wrong hip of another patient, according to a July 25 report from the Miami Herald.

Richard Berkowitz, MD, is an orthopedist specializing in hip and knee reconstructive surgery and has now been fined for medical mistakes during both of these surgeries. 

The most recent case occurred Feb. 24, 2020, when a patient was supposed to get a left knee replacement, and Dr. Berkowitz began making an incision in the patient's right leg. 

Once the surgical staff notified him that the surgery was supposed to be on the opposite knee, Dr. Berkowitz halted the procedure and obtained consent from the patient's family to begin correctly operating on the left knee. 

The state's board of medicine approved a settlement, posted July 17, totaling $15,443 in fines. Dr. Berkowitz was fined $10,000 for a wrong site surgery and $5,443 to reimburse the Florida Department of Health's case costs, according to the report. 

Aside from fines, Dr. Berkowitz is required to take a continuing medical education course on wrong site surgeries and a risk management course, both spanning five hours long. Additionally, Dr. Berkowitz must offer 50 hours of medical services free of charge and give a lecture to hospitals discussing wrong site surgeries. An official reprimand has also been issued against his license, according to the report.

Dr. Berkowitz's first medical mistake occurred Dec. 12, 2000, when he performed a percutaneous pinning of a patient's incorrect femur. Dr. Berkowitz realized he had performed the surgery on the wrong hip while the patient was in recovery and then brought the patient back into surgery and pinned the left hip.

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