The Yokohama District Court on Thursday fined two surgeons, an anesthetist and a nurse from Yokohama City University Hospital for operating on the wrong patients, while giving another nurse a suspended prison term and acquitting another anesthetist.

It marked the first time that a court has ruled on such a medical mishap. The fines for the four range from 300,000 yen to 500,000 yen.

Presiding Judge Ryoichi Tanaka said the actions of the defendants "neglected the most basic and fundamental act of patient confirmation" and, as such, greatly detracted from the public's trust in medical care.

The six defendants were accused of operating on the wrong people on Jan. 11, 1999, when they confused an 84-year-old man with lung disease with a male heart patient 10 years younger. They built a heart valve into the former and removed part of a lung from the latter. Both patients are now deceased.