READ THE STORY OF 20 YEARS OF DISCRIMINATION!
RACISM OF NOVANT (FORMERLY PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL) - CHARLOTTE
I AM LIVING PROOF
Ron A. Virmani, M.D.
On September 1, 1995, Presbyterian hospital called me to their imposing corporate Board Room in Charlotte 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! Without hospital privileges, I could never deliver another baby nor help women in need of gynecologic surgery. My future went bleak in front of my eyes!
I knew that they had been reviewing my charts for several months now. But they never gave me a chance to explain my actions and defend my charts as required by hospital’s own by-laws. 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 Mr. Paul Betzold and chief of ob-gyn Dr. Ronald Brown. They simply stated that I had 24 “problematic” charts, as determined by the peer review committee.
Having migrated from India, 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 and summoned Dr. John Hollenbeck (general surgeon) and Dr. Scott Andrews (cardiovascular surgeon) to assist me. We repaired the injury 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. 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 no quality of care issues. Anyway, a departmental “peer review” committee headed by Dr. James Hardy nitpicked and maliciously labeled 24 out of 102 charts “problematic”.
The Medical Board of North Carolina asked an experienced ob-gyn physician from Charlotte, Dr. Kenneth Chambers to review my cases. He had worked at Presbyterian Hospital for a long time. He and many other reviewers found my 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! Was it just a coincidence that I was the first ob-gyn physician of Indian origin at Presbyterian hospital? I found out many medical malpractice cases against other doctors. These facts are true to the best of my knowledge.
SERIOUS ACTS OF OTHER DOCTORS (as accurate as possible from public sources)
Dr. W Wortman injured a patient’s bladder at a laparoscopy. The jury found him negligent and awarded the Plaintiff $100,000. (92-CVS-16674)
Dr. K Baker performed a laparscopic 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. Baker 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. Baker privileges in ob-gyn department.
Dr. D Whitesides 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 passed out and the husband had to carry her. An exploratory laparotomy and hemicolectomy was done. Suit also named Nalle clinic.
Dr. C Ellington 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. J Tidwell performed a laparoscopy on a patient who died from overwhelming sepsis six days later. (97-CVS-1707) Dr. Tidwell 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. A Lewis failed to manage fetal distress during labor in 1992, the parties named (Dr. Lewis and Mintview ob-gyn) settled for $2M in May 1995.
Drs. M Torres and K Stephens 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. W Mcdonald failed to assess fetal distress in February 1987. The result was severe physical and neurological injuries. (96-CVS-7927).
Dr. Alice Teague 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)
PRESBYTERIAN SINGLED ME OUT
These cases (all collected from public records) are only the tip of the iceberg of adverse events involving Presbyterian physicians. I know of no disciplinary action against these physicians by the hospital. They kept on practicing at Presbyterian hospital. Some are still there. In fact, some of them sat in my judgment. Additionally, Presbyterian had no problem rehabilitating Drs. William Verross and Larry Craddock disciplined by NC Medical Board for sexual misconduct with their patients!
In 1996, I filed a state court case for breach of the by-laws. The hospital started a new review, ordered by the court, using outside reviewers, but then refused to divulge their findings! They started yet another internal review, which found 25 of my charts to be problematic. However, 10 of these charts were different from the original 24 charts!
In 1998, after the letter from Dr. Schwartz circulated, I realized that I was targeted because of my ethnicity. In January 1999, I filed a discrimination case in the federal court. The hospital attorneys dragged the case for so long that the original judge died. A new judge was assigned.
However, out of nowhere, Judge Mullen, appeared and grabbed the case from the new judge. He kicked out my federal lawsuit stating that I should have pleaded discrimination in the original state court case in 1996! At that time, I had no evidence of discrimination! So much for spending eleven long years in the courts and two million dollars in legal fees! My career has been destroyed for ever!
When North Carolina Medical Board found my cases meeting the standard of care, they promised to help me. But after Presbyterian lawyers communicated to the Board against me, the help never materialized. Charlotte Medical Society, North Carolina Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, American Association of Physicians of Inida Origin (AAPI) have all pleaded strongly with the hospital to reinstate and compensate me but the hospital has not budged from its unconscionable position!
A petition signed by more than 200 prominent citizens and physicians from the local area and across the globe has been submitted to the hospital. The petition appears below. Please sign and enter comments against the shabby behavior of the hospital!
POWER ELITE AT PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL
After I filed a suit alleging discrimination, the Presbyterian hospital reluctantly woke up to the idea of diversity. They started sending their employees to diversity workshops. But they do not even think about rehabilitating my destroyed career and life! I have struggled for 18 years but have been cast aside..
I and my daughter met up with Mr. Mark Billings, then CEO of Presbyterian Hospital on June 1, 2011. He asked me to give him a concrete proposal to resolve my situation. I did that promptly but did not hear anything from him.
I protested in front of the hosptial in October and November of 2011, I was intimedated and driven away by the security guards at the hospital. So much for my first amendment rights! Mr. Nick Nanda personally brought the petition, signed by more than 200 people, to the hospital in December 2011. Mr. Jay Kumar again sent the petition to the hospital in 2012 for fairness and justice. My mother wrote the Board of Trustees of the hospital. Nobody heard back any acknowledgement or response from the hospital.
I implore all responsible organizations, community leaders, politicians and individuals to step up and intervene to reverse this travesty of justice. Peer review should not be a tool for hospitals to keep the bad doctors they like and good doctors they do not. Please call Mr. Harry Smith, now CEO at 704-384-4000 and tell him to reinstate a competent doctor and compensate him for his 18 years of suffering. Thank you for speaking up for justice and good of public health!