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A prominent plastic surgeon has been reprimanded and indefinitely suspended by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center after he left a patient in the middle of an operation to perform surgery down the street at another hospital. Dr. Joseph Upton, who specializes in complex hand surgeries, has voluntarily agreed to stop practicing medicine until at least May 4 while state regulators investigate whether he has double-booked operations on other occasions.
Beth Israel officials said Upton left an adult male patient during a scheduled break in a lengthy operation on March 17 and returned before the procedure was scheduled to resume. However, they said he failed to properly notify the operating room team that he was leaving and didn't arrange for another attending surgeon to take his place in case there were complications during the break.
''Though no harm to the patient occurred and the surgery was completed on schedule, the medical center leadership took this breach of policy very seriously and immediately launched its own internal investigation," said a statement issued by Dr. Michael Epstein, chief operating officer of Beth Israel Deaconess. He said Upton has not been allowed to admit new patients or visit existing ones since April 8.
Upton's operating room breach bears a surface similarity to the 2002 case of Dr. David Arndt, whose license was suspended after he left a patient on the operating table to go to the bank to cash a check.