The Fortis Hospital at Shalimar Bagh dismissed five staffers on Wednesday for allegedly operating on the healthy left ankle of a chartered accountant instead of the injured one during a surgical procedure conducted the previous afternoon.

A police complaint lodged at the Ashok Vihar police station stated that the patient, 24-year-old Ravi Rai, had fractured his right leg when he fell down a staircase on Sunday. He was taken to Fortis Hospital, where screening tests showed that the ankle joint was damaged. Following this, the surgeons decided to operate on the leg.

“He had fractured an ankle joint, and needed screws to hold it in place,” said Rai’s father Ram Karan. “But when they brought him out of surgery, we noticed they had operated on his left leg. His right leg was untouched.”

Ram Karan alleged that the hospital authorities were shockingly nonchalant about the entire episode. “When we questioned the doctors, they said there was no problem… they would simply perform another surgery to remove the screws from the left ankle and put them in the right one,” he said.

Claiming criminal negligence and apathy on the part of the hospital authorities, the distressed father said: “Several tests were conducted before the surgery, and they had even marked his right ankle with a marker. What made them operate on the wrong ankle, then?”

Ram Karan said Mediclaim reimbursement of Rs 1 lakh has already been paid to the hospital. “They delayed the surgery by a day because we hadn’t received confirmation from the insurance company,” he added.

Rai, meanwhile, has been shifted to Max Hospital in Shalimar Bagh for treatment.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Fortis claimed that the hospital had set up an expert committee to probe the incident immediately after the botched surgery. Preliminary findings suggested that the accused doctors had deviated from routine operating room procedures to reduce chances of human error, it added.

“The operating team may have disregarded and sidestepped due processes… As this is a zero-tolerance area for us, the services of five erring doctors and operation room personnel have been dispensed forthwith. Action is also being contemplated against others, pending inquiry,” the hospital said.

Police said a case under sections 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by an act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code has been registered against the staffers. “We are looking into the matter,” said Vijay Singh, deputy commissioner of police (northwest).