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Surgeon Acquitted of Hastening Patient's Death.

A San Francisco transplant surgeon accused of hastening the death of a man so his organs could be procured was acquitted Dec. 18 of dependent adult abuse in a case that led to national organ transplant reforms, the Associated Press reported. Dr. Hootan Roozrokh was found not guilty in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court by a jury that deliberated for more than two days.

He would have faced up to four years in prison had he been convicted. A judge dismissed two other felony counts in March. The case was believed to be the first of its kind brought against a transplant doctor in the United States. Dr. Roozrokh, 34, was accused of prescribing too much medication to 26-year-old Ruben Navarro when he died in February 2006 at a San Luis Obispo hospital. Navarro had a debilitating neurological disease and was in a coma after a heart attack.

Dr. Roozrokh testified in his own defense, saying he did not try to hasten Navarro's death but did order painkillers to ensure the patient would not suffer when being withdrawn from life support. Prosecutors claimed it was a conflict of interest for Dr. Roozrokh to oversee care for the patient and said he ordered excessive amounts of morphine and the sedative Ativan. The case prompted the United Network for Organ Sharing last year to develop rules for cardiac-death donation and required 257 transplant hospitals and 58 organ procurement groups to do the same. Before that, the effort depended on individual hospitals or groups. Link: (12/31/08)
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Publication:Transplant News
Date:Jan 1, 2009
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