The State Department of Health handed out a big penalty to the hospital for the decisions they say put 72-year-old Silvino Perez in danger.
Family members sued both hospital and the Valley heart surgeon for putting Silvino Perez on life support. The family believes what happened during Perez's surgery could have been prevented and they want to make sure no one else gets hurt.
Perez loved gardening and adored his grandkids. His son said all that changed because of a surgeon and Community Regional Medical Center.
"My God, I can't put it into words. Can you imagine?" Cristobal Arteaga said.
A civil lawsuit filed April 2012 details how Perez went into a Downtown Fresno hospital for open heart surgery. State investigators believe the hospital and Dr. Pervaiz Chaudhry put him in immediate jeopardy. But the state and his son were only alerted after an anonymous call from a nurse who was in the operating room at the time.
"He basically told me the reason my dad was in the condition he was in, was the doctor had walked out in the middle of an operation to attend a luncheon," said Arteaga.
The State Department of Health believes the doctor left the room and told a physician's assistant to finish the operation. But investigators found he never closed up the patient's chest before he did. The complications sent the elderly man into a vegetative state.
"It's a betrayal. They are covering something up. The nurse went on to say the only reason they have this guy on is he brings so much money into the hospital. That's the only reason they haven't done anything yet," Arteaga said.
Action News interviewed Dr. Chaudhry in 2011 before the incident. At the time CRMC praised him for his cutting edge work in cardiac medicine. When we tried to reach Dr. Chaudhry at home, he was not available.
In a statement a spokesperson for the hospital said, "While we can't comment on any ongoing litigation we have instituted improved safeguards with action plans that have been approved by the state. Community continually trains and searches for ways we can improve our patient care and safety."
The Perez family lawyer said Medicare currently pays for Silvino Perez's ongoing treatment.
Meanwhile the hospital has confirmed Dr. Chaudhry still works at Community Regional Medical Center.This story comes from our sister station, KFSN-TV, in Fresno, California.