Operating Room Nightmare

Thirty-year-old Lisa Smart expected her surgery at New York's Beth Israel Hospital would be performed by doctors. Instead, her team included a salesman from Johnson & Johnson.

Lisa paid with her life.CBS News Correspondent Diana Olick reports.

"I am here...because our families have vowed to make sure that my wife did not die in vain," said Lisa's husband, Anderson Smart.

Lisa was having a benign tumor removed from her uterus. It was not considered a dangerous operation, but a state health department investigation found "the equipment used in the procedure was not approved by the hospital, and staff were not trained or familiar with the equipment."

The salesman, allegedly eager to show off the new equipment, told doctors he had approval. He assured nurses, untrained in the device, that he would run it himself. The doctors let him operate the equipment.

"He actually scrubbed down, and he actually controlled the controls on the machine during the surgery," said Linda Cronin, Smart's attorney.

The problem was, the new machine forced the doctor to use an unfamiliar technique, and the doctor's mistakes, the report says, caused Lisa's death.

Lisa's husband is suing all involved.

"Lisa died because Beth Israel, its doctors, and Johnson & Johnson put business ahead of health," said Anderson Smart.

In a statement, the hospital said, "Those involved in the case who acted inappropriately have been disciplined."

Johnson & Johnson denies the salesman was at fault.

Health department officials tell CBS News it is common for salesmen, in hospitals across America, to be in the operating room. They are supposed to watch, not work. This case reveals, some salesmen may be crossing the line between healing and selling.

Reported By Diana Olick
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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