Health Care News & Discussion
My 10-Year Struggle Against Discriminatory Peer Review by Presbyterian Hospital
06/04/2017 11:47 AM
This communiqué is in the series of updates on my case to members of the medical community and others in Charlotte. For those of you who may not know me or be aware of my situation, please allow me to explain briefly.
I received my M.D. from New Jersey Medical School in 1985 and finished my ob-gyn residency from Temple University hospital in 1989. I came to Charlotte in 1990 and! became a member of Presbyterian hospital medical staff as an ob-gyn physician.
We all have had medical or surgical complications in our practices through no fault of our own. In December 1994, I punctured the external iliac artery inadvertently during a laparoscopy. I immediately proceeded to laparotomy and the patient went home after a few days stay in the hospital. My malpractice insurance company as well as several independent reviewers determined that I met the standard of care in this case.
Following this, Presbyterian hospital subjected my charts to a completely secretive en masse peer review. Without giving me a chance to defend any of the charts, the Hospital labeled 24 out of 102 of my charts “problematic” and summarily suspended my privileges on September 1, 1995. Although I repeatedly asked the hospital for an independent external review of my charts, the hospital did not grant that simple request. The Medical Board of North Carolina asked a senior physician from Charlotte ob-gyn community to review my cases. He as well as several other reviewers have found these charts to be within the standard of care.
According to a letter circulated by Dr. Jared Schwartz in October 1998 among the hospital’s medical staff, I was the first physician to be suspended in 20 years at Presbyterian hospital. I felt at this point that the hospital had discriminated against me in the worst possible way.
I had no choice but to file a civil rights lawsuit against the hospital in January 1999. My suit sought to compare my peer review to the reviews of other doctors at Presbyterian hospital over the period of those 20 years. The federal district court in Charlotte ordered the hospital in June 2000 to give me the peer-review records of all ob-gyn physicians spanning a period from 1982 to 1997. In August 2001, the 4th circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA confirmed this order.
My lawyers received a large amount of material that consists of peer reviews, relevant patient charts and such. They conducted depositions of many physicians. Several physicians (including 2 from Presbyterian Hospital) have concluded that there was clearly inequitable treatment.
At the end of 2004, Judge McKnight, presiding over my case, passed away, falling victim to esophageal cancer. Judge Graham Mullen took over the case. In mid 2005, Presbyterian Hospital filed a motion for summary judgment. Judge Mullen granted that motion; thereby stopping the case from going to trial and having my day in the court.
I am in the process of appealing this order to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals so I can obtain a measure of justice after ten years of struggle. Surely you will agree that peer review process should be fair and just for all community physicians, regardless of their national origin. Only then, is it in the best interest of good medicine and all our patients.
I have full and unrestricted licenses in NC, NJ and PA. I continue some office practice in Charlotte and maintain privileges at Carolinas Medical Center. But my professional and personal life have been devastated as a result of the actions of the hospital. Please feel free to email me your note of support or contact me if you have any questions. I shall gratefully accept any help to rehabilitate my career. Thank you.