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O.C. Doctor Barred From Solo Surgeries After Wrongfully Removing Spleen Instead Of Kidney

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A Santa Ana urologist got in hot water in 2015 when, during surgery at Fountain Valley Regional hospital, he removed a patient's spleen instead of the patient's kidney, which was the organ intended for removal.

Last week, an administrative law judge decided to bar Dr. Huey Chou Lin from performing any more nephrectomies (the surgical removal of kidneys). He's also barred from "the solo practice of medicine," and is required to have another urologist serving as co-surgeon for any surgeries or procedures he's performing. These rules will remain in place until a "full administrative determination" of Lin's "fitness to practice medicine" has been completed. The document of the order can be found here.

According to the report, Lin's "failure to recognize the spleen before it was removed and to recognize he had removed the spleen and his delay in notifying the patient of the removal the spleen were below the standard of care."

Lin is not exactly a rookie. He'd been issued a certificate to practice way back in 1980, according to the document. Investigations of the incident revolved around Lin's age and cognitive abilities. A psychiatrist noted that, "He demonstrated an unreliable pattern of performance on neuropsychological testing such that it is difficult to identify a core cognitive problem unaffected by language, anxiety, and distraction due to competing priorities," according to the document. The doctor said it could not be concluded if Lin's shortcomings in a set of tests were merely the result of a language barrier (English is a second language for Lin), but added, "I cannot in good conscience provide clearance to resume his normal practice." A separate psychiatrist diagnosed Lin with dementia but, as noted in the document, it was invalidated because the doctor could not provide a "reasoned explanation connecting his 'evidence' to his diagnosis."

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Ray McMahon, Lin's attorney, told the OC Register that more than 60 colleagues have signed a letter of support for Lin. “Dr. Lin is an incredibly kind, generous physician who is beloved by the medical staff that he works with,” McMahon said. LAist reached out to McMahon's office, but no one was immediately available to comment.

The documents do not say what condition the patient is in.