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Surgeon Accused Of Leaving Surgical Instruments Inside Patients

DENVER (CBS4) - A Denver surgeon is being investigated for botched surgery allegations that include leaving sponges and surgical instruments inside his patients.

The Colorado Medical Board has filed 14 counts of unprofessional conduct against Dr. Warren Kortz.

Some of those counts stem from Kortz's use of a robotic surgery arm while he performed surgeries at Porter Adventist Hospital.

In 2010 Porter Hospital placed Kortz under precautionary suspension after complications with 11 kidney surgeries.

The hospital began using the Da Vinci Robot for surgeries in 2008. The advanced but untested robotic surgical device was used to remove a kidney from a donor.

The federal government has recently launched an investigation into the use of the Da Vinci Robot across the country.

DR. DAVE HNIDA'S BLOG: FDA Investigates Robotic Surgery

A lawsuit filed against Kortz accuses the doctor of misrepresenting the success rate of the machine, stating that Kortz "told patients the safest, best option for them was the robot" and that he "never offered standard surgical procedures as an option for his patients."

In 2009 Kortz allowed CBS4 cameras inside his surgical suite. Kortz was convinced the robots were the future of surgeries.

"I'm sure a day will come where perhaps the robot has a technical failure. I'd be hard-pressed to say, 'I think we need to cancel.' We could go back to the old technology but I don't think that's right," said Kortz in an interview from 2009.

According to the attorney general there were frequent problems. Kortz allegedly left a surgical sponge inside a patient and in several cases had to resort to manual surgery after injuring patients with the robot procedure.

Some of Kortz's patients claimed they suffered nerve damage and internal bleeding. One surgery on an elderly patient resulted in a torn aorta. Shortly after the family took that patient off life support.

Kortz's attorney said patients accepted the risks of the new procedure stating that at least one was advised of the possible complications prior to surgery and consented anyway.

"She was advised of the possible complications prior to surgery and consented to the risks of surgery," said attorney Bruce Montoya in a statement.

Montoya said those patients are only trying to get a large settlement in a civil case.

A hearing for the Colorado Medical Board to review the complaint against Kortz has been scheduled for May.

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