New York judge drops charges against surgeon accused of strangling nurse with elastic cord

A Nassau County District Court judge on Feb. 20 dropped criminal charges against an East Meadow, N.Y.-based Nassau University Medical Center surgeon who was accused of strangling a nurse with an elastic cord, according to Newsday.

Here are four things to know about the case.

1. A 51-year-old nurse at NUMC reportedly filed a criminal complaint with police, stating she had been working alongside Dr. Venkatesh Sasthakonar during a patient operation Jan. 22. Police claim Dr. Sasthakonar became enraged with the unidentified nurse after she reportedly administered a medication to the patient incorrectly. Following the operation, Dr. Sasthakonar allegedly removed the elastic cord from his sweatshirt, tightened it around the nurse's neck, and threatened to kill her, according to the report.

2. In a statement Feb. 20, police said officers responded to the hospital after reports of an assault and discovered the nurse reportedly being treated for injuries allegedly caused by Dr. Sasthakonar. Police proceeded to arrest him and placed him into custody. Police also noted the hospital did not maintain security cameras in the operating room due to HIPAA privacy laws and "therefore, there is no video surveillance of the incident," the report states.

3. However, Nassau County District Court Judge Martin Massell dismissed the case against Dr. Sasthakonar Feb. 20, stating there was not enough evidence to prove the allegations against him.

"After thoroughly reviewing this case, interviewing witnesses and analyzing surveillance video, it has been determined there is not enough evidence to support that a crime occurred," a spokesperson for the Nassau District Attorney's Office told Newsday.

4. A spokesperson for NUMC told Newsday Feb. 22 that the hospital is "aware of the recent updates with regard to Dr. Venkatesh Sasthakonar's legal proceedings and will take such information into account as the medical board continues its internal personnel review, in strict adherence to all hospital protocols and bylaws." It is unclear if the nurse is still employed by the hospital.

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