On September 1, 1995, Presbyterian hospital called me to their imposing corporate Board Room in Charlotte, NC and dropped a bomb on me. They said they were summarily suspending my hospital privileges at 4 pm that day!
Suspension from a hospital is a kiss of death for any physician! I knew that I would never be able to deliver any more babies nor take care of women who needed gynecologic surgery. The future of my family went bleak in front of my eyes.
I knew that they had been reviewing my charts for several months now. But I had no idea that they would not even give me a chance to present my side of the story with regard to any of those charts before taking such Draconian action. This was truly a stab in the back.
“We do not have to tell you what the charts are.” Said then CEO of Presbyterian hospital and chief of ob-gyn. They simply stated that I had 24 “problematic” charts, as determined by the peer review committee.
I had received my M.D. from New Jersey Medical School in 1985 and finished my ob-gyn residency from Temple University hospital in 1989. I had come to Charlotte in 1990 and become a member of Presbyterian hospital medical staff as an ob-gyn physician.
On December 1994, I had a surgical mishap. Inadvertently, I punctured the external iliac artery in a patient during laparoscopy. This was unfortunate but a known complication of such a procedure. I immediately proceeded to laparotomy. I summoned a general surgeon and a cardiovascular surgeon to assist me with the repair. 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. However, citing business reasons, the insurance company later decided to settle the lawsuit for 300K.
Following the incident, Presbyterian hospital went on a fishing expedition of my charts from over a two year period. Most of these charts had been filed in the hospital archives as having had no problems with them. Anyway, a departmental “peer review” committee headed by Dr. X somehow managed to label 24 of them “problematic” out of my 102 charts reviewed.
Did Dr. X have more experience than I as an ob-gyn? No, we both finished medical school and residency in same years. The difference is that he is a good old Southern boy trained at Chapel Hill while I am India born, with my residency from Philadelphia. He was later promoted to the position of the chief of the ob-gyn department.
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 an experienced ob-gyn physician from Charlotte, Dr. Y to review my cases. He as well as several other reviewers found my charts to be within the standard of care.
According to a letter circulated by Dr. Z in October 1998 among the hospital’s medical staff, I was the first physician to be suspended in 20 years at Presbyterian hospital! Was it just a coincidence that I was the first ob-gyn physician of Indian origin at Presbyterian hospital? I decided to do a little research starting with the local courts. I found out the following facts, which are true to the best of my knowledge.
Dr. A injured a patient’s bladder while performing laparoscopy. The jury found him negligent and awarded the Plaintiff $100,000. (92-CVS-16674)
Dr. B performed a laparoscopic surgery in October 1993 at Union Memorial Hospital. An injury to the intestine was not recognized at this time. Patient presented later with abdominal abscess and died. (Union County 95 CVS 01325) Dr. B performed another laparoscopy in November 1994 at which time a bowel perforation was not recognized. She died of sepsis. (Union County, 96 CVS 00992) Presbyterian hospital had no problem subsequently giving Dr. B privileges in ob-gyn department.
Dr. C performed a laser laparoscopy on a patient in 1995 (99- CVS-5141). The patient complained of abdominal pain on December 2 and 3, the physician prescribed stool softener. On December 4, she fell down and the husband had to carry her. An exploratory laparotomy and hemicolectomy was done. Suit also named Nalle clinic. Dr. C kept a patient on ovulation induction for one year, after which an x-ray revealed her tubes to be blocked. (99-CVS-1540)
Dr. D performed a laser laparoscopy in September 1991 on a patient and perforated her small bowel. She underwent multiple subsequent surgeries and became unable to eat and drink. She was placed on TPN (intravenous nutrition). The suit also named Bradford Clinic and PHAC. (94-CVS-11679)
Dr. E performed a laparoscopy on a patient who died from overwhelming sepsis six days later. (97-CVS-1707) Dr. E also failed to respond to nurse’s pages for another patient in labor in August 1989. The infant suffered severe physical and neurological injuries. (92-CVS-11209)
Dr. F failed to manage fetal distress during labor in 1992, the parties named (Dr. F and Mintview ob-gyn) settled for $5M in May 1995.
Drs. G and H were performing a hysterectomy at Presbyterian hospital, while managing a labor patient at Carolinas Medical Center in September 1995. They failed to respond to fetal distress in time. The baby was born with zero apgars and died 16 hours after birth.(96-CVS-9576)
Dr. J failed to assess fetal distress in February 1987. The result was severe physical and neurological injuries. (96-CVS-7927).
Dr. K delayed performing a c/section after unsuccessful vacuum extraction of a baby with much fundal pressure. The baby was born with birth asphyxia and skull fracture. The jury awarded Plaintiff 23.2 million. The hospital settled separately for $6M. (95-CVS-13212)
These cases are only the tip of the iceberg of adverse events involving Presbyterian physicians. I know of no disciplinary action whatsoever, let alone suspension, against these physicians by the hospital. They kept practicing at Presbyterian hospital. In fact, some of them sat in my judgment.
I have spent eleven long years in the courts and a million dollars in legal fees. I have been living one hell of a life. Any semblance of normalcy has disappeared. I think it is quite a simple question and would like YOU to answer it:
DID THE HOSPITAL DISCRIMINATE AGAINST ME?