Report: Halifax Health surgeon operates on wrong leg, denies mistake

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VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - It's a patient's worst nightmare: going in for surgery, only to have the wrong body part operated on.

A woman said it happened to her at Halifax Health, and a scathing new report reveals how the surgeon never told the patient he made a mistake and even tried to justify his work.

On Wednesday, Halifax said "the procedure was immediately stopped." and "the patient and family were informed."

A report by state investigators says the surgeon told the patient the surgery on the wrong leg was justified because she would have needed it eventually.

He told investigators, "I was thinking more about myself and justifying what was done to the patient."

Attorney Marlan Wilbanks represents an employee who blew the whistle, accusing Halifax of Medicaid and Medicare fraud.

He said the series of bad decisions are like déjà vu to what plays out in his landmark whistle-blower case.

"Problems are everywhere. Not once have they accepted responsibility. They put their heads in the sand," Wilbanks said.

Eyewitness News was the first to speak with his client, Halifax employee Elin Kunz, who also alleges Halifax preformed unnecessary spinal fusion surgeries.

"I would go back to my boss and say, 'We can't do this anymore,'" Kunz said.

In the latest case, records show both of the patients' legs were infected from the surgery so badly she went to a nursing home instead of going home.

Investigators also found other problems that they say is a serious threat to patients’ health and safety. Those violations include having expired medications and not following proper infection control procedures.  

Halifax sent a statement that it is retraining all operating room employees and those responsible for the surgery mistake have been suspended or fired.

The Agency for Healthcare Administration is recommending the hospital's Medicare and Medicaid services be terminated this Saturday.