|Dr. Ron Virmani|
|Seven Years of Injustice by Presbyterian Hospital|
On September 1, 1995, the CEO of Presbyterian Hospital called me to the Board Room of the hospital and gave me the news.
He told me that the hospital was summarily suspending me as of 4PM that day because of a "peer-review" of my 102 patient charts out of which 24 were found to be "problematic". I was stunned by this revelation. I knew that a peer review had been afoot for the last several months but I had assumed that they would give me a chance to defend and explain anything that they considered "problematic". This is how things are always done in the hospitals.
"No" said Mr. Paul Betzold, the CEO and Dr. Ronald Brown, Head of ob-gyn department. "We do not have to tell you what charts are problematic or what the problems are."
Suspended from the hospital, I hired a lawyer to help me. Two and a quarter months later, the hospital finally gave us a list of the specific problems with the 24 charts. Turned out that the problems were everyday things that happen to all ob-gyns. Nothing special. My lawyer knew a couple of senior ob-gyns in the community. I did not know these gentlemen. They reviewed my charts without any compensation and said there was nothing wrong with the charts and patient care.
The hospital had done the peer review of my charts using my competitors and other physicians who had a stake in the outcome of the review. Doctors who would find faults where there was none. And of course, they did not have the courage to sit me face to face and simply ask me questions about the cases, because they knew how foolish they would appear.
Seven long years have now passed. I have vague memory of happy pregnant women coming to my office for their care. I faintly remember the last pink baby I delivered. I have spent these seven years in court rooms and lawyers offices. I have spent a million dollars in legal expenses. The hospital has not budged.
We have obtained records of peer-reviews of other ob-gyns from the hospital. It has become clear to me that I was treated differently from others. Many other ob-gyns who had bad incidents of adverse outcome at the hospital were reviewed in a very collegial and understanding manner. They were not disciplined, let alone suspended. I was the first physician to be suspended from the hospital in 20 years!
Next month, we intend to depose some of these other physicians to find out why. Then we shall take all the information to the jury and ask them to decide if the hospital indeed treated me differently. We hope justice will be served one day.
Until then, I wait.
Ron A. Virmani, M.D.