CRIME
01/15/2014 04:11 pm ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014

Dr. Parvaiz Chaudhry Allegedly Left Surgery To Have Lunch, Leaving Patient Brain Damaged

A California doctor is under fire after a patient's family claims he left surgery to attend a luncheon, a decision that they say resulted in a loved one being left in a vegetative state.

A lawsuit filed Dec. 23 claims Dr. Parvaiz Chaudhry, who the Fresno Bee described as one of the state's busiest cardiac surgeons, left 72-year-old Silvino Perez on the operating table in April 2012.

According to the suit, Chaudhry left Perez's chest cavity open on the table, and told a physician's assistant to finish a procedure that he was unqualified to perform, according to ABC News.

Complications arose, Perez's heart stopped, and Chaudhry was summoned to finish the operation. He managed to save Perez, but by the time he got back, the damage to the patient was done. Perez has lived in a vegetative state ever since.

About a year after the fateful procedure, Perez's stepson, Cristobal Arteaga, received a phone call from a nurse who was present in the operating room that day. The person told Arteaga what had happened.

"It was awful to hear that," Arteaga told ABC News. "What kind of monster is this, that would just walk out?"

Had Arteaga not received that phone call, Perez's family might never have learned the truth.

Arteaga's lawyer told ABC News that the dates and medical details relayed by the informant matched Perez's case, and couldn't be a coincidence.

The suit seeks unspecified damages, according to the Fresno Bee.

A spokeswoman for Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, where the operation took place, would not comment on active litigation, but told the newspaper that the hospital had implemented "improved safeguards with action plans that have been approved by the state... [and] continually trains and searches for ways we can improve our patient care and safety."

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