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The health ministry on Thursday temporarily suspended three surgeons involved in a fatal malpractice case at a Tokyo hospital in 2002 and another at a hospital in Saitama Prefecture in 2000 from practicing medicine, effective April 1.

Jun Madarame, 38, and Taro Hasegawa, 34, have been suspended for two years for performing a botched operation at Jikei University School of Medicine’s Aoto Hospital in Tokyo, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

A 60-year-old patient with prostate cancer suffered excessive bleeding due to the operation and died a month later.

Tetsuro Onishi, 53, who permitted them to conduct the operation, was handed a three-month suspension, the ministry said.

Prosecutors have charged Madarame and Hasegawa with professional negligence resulting in death. They have dropped the case against Onishi, a former department head, due to lack of evidence.

It is the first time the ministry has punished doctors before a court decision, or indictment, in the case of Onishi.

The ministry considered the case particularly grievous because the two inexperienced doctors went ahead and performed the difficult operation in the absence of senior attending surgeons, ministry officials said.

It also ordered Ichiro Sumi, 34, who was involved in the 2000 malpractice case at the Saitama Medical Center of Saitama Medical School, to cease practicing medicine for 3 1/2 years.

Sumi was convicted of killing a teenage girl by administering an excessive dose of a cancer drug at the hospital in Kawagoe.

“In addition to what the doctors did, there were problems in the operating systems of the hospitals in both incidents,” Hitoshi Katayama, head of the ministry panel on medical ethics that recommended the penalties Wednesday, said in a statement after the official decision.

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