Man left in vegetative state after doctor allegedly leaves open-heart surgery for luncheon

"I didn't know that the doctor walked out, and that was the reason my dad was in the state that he's in," says victim's stepson.

By Evan Bleier

A California cardiac surgeon and his hospital are being sued after the doctor allegedly left a man in the middle of open-heart surgery so that he could go attend a luncheon.

The family of Silvino Perez, 72, filed the suit against Dr. Parvaiz Chaudhry and Fresno Community Regional Medical Center after he was left in a vegetative state following the operation nearly two years ago. Perez’s wife, Maria A. Arteaga Alvarez, and stepson Cristobal Arteaga filed the suit.


An anonymous phone call alerted Arteaga that the doctor allegedly walked out on Perez and left an under-qualified physician's assistant to close up his chest cavity. Complications caused Perez's heart to stop and by the time the doctor returned, the patient had already suffered brain damage.

"It was awful to hear that," Arteaga said. "I just want people to know what kind of doctor he is. You go in there and you trust this individual with your life. ... The fact that he would do this to an individual -- one individual -- is too much."

The suit is seeking unspecified damages.

"While we can't comment on any ongoing litigation, we have instituted improved safeguards with action plans that have been approved by the state. Community continually trains and searches for ways we can improve our patient care and safety,” Community Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Mary Lisa Russell wrote in an email.


California levied a $75,000 fine against Community Regional last year for what is believed to be the same incident.

"It was somewhat of a whirlwind," Arteaga said. "At one point in time, they told us to round up the whole family, because they didn't think he was going to pull through. I didn't know that the doctor walked out, and that was the reason my dad was in the state that he's in.”

[ABC News] [The Fresno Bee]

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