• Kyodo

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Gunma University Hospital, which announced last week that eight patients died less than four months after undergoing laparoscopic liver operations conducted by the same doctor, said Tuesday another patient died in February following a similar procedure by another doctor.

The hospital admitted there was a surgical failure in the latest case and apologized to the deceased patient’s family, hospital officials said.

The man who died was in his 50s, and had the operation in April 2013 to remove a tumor from his duodenum. A doctor in his 40s first used a laparoscope, but then switched to abdominal surgery because the first procedure didn’t go well. The patient died due to liver failure in February, presumably because a bile duct in his pancreas was damaged during the operation, according to the officials.

The hospital’s investigation revealed that the doctor did not explain to the patient beforehand that the operation would be a highly difficult one, and that he failed to take measures to treat liver damage during and immediately after the operation, such as by inserting a tube to remove bile.

Last week, the hospital announced that eight patients who underwent laparoscopic liver operations died between several weeks and 100 days after the surgeries, although the hospital is still investigating whether the operations caused the deaths.

The hospital also revealed Tuesday that it requested and received fee reimbursement under the national health insurance scheme for treating seven out of the eight patients, although the operations were not covered by insurance.

Such payments are unnecessary for treatment not covered by insurance, because the costs are covered either by the patients themselves or by a hospital’s research funds.

The hospital said it will return the money if the health ministry judges they were received inappropriately.

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