Embattled Coral Springs Physician Refuses Settlement in Wrong Side Surgery Case

Last week, we told you about Dr. Bernard Zaragoza, the Harvard-educated surgeon who in 2007 operated on an 83-year-old man who had an inflamed gallbladder. Zaragoza was supposed to remove the gallbladder but took out the man's kidney instead.

However innocent the mistake was, the original penalty seemed a bit light. Zaragoza was to pay a $5,000 fine, write a letter of concern to the Florida Medical Board, give a one-hour lecture on wrong-side surgeries, and perform 50 hours of community service.

Or at least, that was the settlement Zaragoza and his attorney hashed out with attorneys for the Florida Department of Health. But the Florida Medical Board refused to sign off on that deal, recommending more severe penalties.

In June, the board offered Zaragoza a countersettlement. That deal adopted the letter of concern, but it called for a $10,000 fine and an official reprimand.

According to a spokeswoman for the Department of Health, Zaragoza refused those terms, meaning that his case will now go to an administrative law judge in Miami. The case will be heard January 9.

A message left with a secretary at Zaragoza's office has not been returned.

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