A New Jersey surgeon's medical license was suspended after state regulators found he removed the wrong lung from a patient, then tried to conceal the error.
The State Board of Medical Examiners found Dr. Santusht Perera moved a portion of the patient's right lung when he should have been removing a tumor in the left lung, the state Attorney General's Office said Wednesday.
Perera, according to the board, then told the patient that the right lung contained a life-threatening tumor, though there was no such growth. He also altered the patient's records to show he intended to operate on the right lung.
The board determined that Perera's actions constituted gross negligence.
The board said the "tragic error" could have been prevented if Dr. Perera had taken "the most basic and minimal of actions that should be taken by a surgeon in advance of surgery."
Perera, who practices at Hoboken University Medical Center, was assessed $81,000 in fines and reimbursement costs.
His lawyer, Michael J. Keating, is on vacation and not available for comment, his office said Wednesday.
David Wald, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, said no other complaints were pending against the doctor.
Under the ruling, Perera can appeal for an early restoration of his medical license after six months.