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Anesthesiologist Caught in a Lie: Part 2

Anesthesiologist Caught in a Lie: Part 2

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Anesthesiologist caught in a lie

Read part 1 Anesthesiologist caught in a lie

I rarely request a medical licensing file in medical cases because they hardly ever have any usable information. But in this case, my gut told me that there was a sleaze factor with this particular physician and perhaps I might find something interesting. Once I received the doctor’s medical licensing file, it was obvious to me that he had lied to the licensing board, saying that he was board certified.

Prior to the deposition of the anesthesiologist, just to make sure I had corrected information, I asked the American Board of Anesthesiology to send me a written document giving his official status just in case we needed official backup. They sent the document, which stated that the defendant was neither board certified nor board eligible. (Board eligible means that the doctor has completed requirements necessary to sit for the board certification examination.)

Lying to the medical board about your credentials is a big deal.

When the anesthesiologist applied for privileges at the defendant hospital, the hospital either did not double check his status or if they did know about his status and they chose to do and say nothing and continue to lie on their website. This was especially interesting in light of the claim on their website that all their anesthesiologists were board certified.

In the anesthesiologist’s deposition, when the attorney representing the plaintiff asked about board certification, the defendant tried to dodge the question. We showed him and his attorneys’ multiple years of license applications that had “American Board of Anesthesiology” typed in under the section regarding board certification status and signed by him. His response was that “the girls” in his office filled out the forms and he just signed them without reading them closely.

It was then the attorney pulled out our smoking gun – the application for license renewal that he had WRITTEN IN HIS OWN HANDWRITING that he was board certified. We then produced our document from the American Board of Anesthesiology, proving his lie.

The defense attorneys were shocked and called for an immediate recess. Needless to say, the defense team was quite unhappy with their client.

The licensing file was entered into evidence. This did irreparable damage to the anesthesiologist’s credibility.

The case dragged on for four long years, with the defense delaying progress whenever possible. I believe they were hoping our client would die in the interim and they would be off the hook. I have seen that before.

She lived.

The case settled for the insurance policy limits. But as a condition of settlement, we required the hospital to correct the errors on its website and to actually follow their own policies and procedures. Part of the settlement was that the hospital now requires audible alarms on anesthesia machines and monitors could not be overridden and shut off.

I believe that a lot of good can come out of a tragedy like this if you can effect actual changes in the hospital’s procedures to prevent the tragedy from happening again, perhaps even saving lives. It’s NOT all about money. Lawsuits can actually work to improve patient safety and make positive changes in the health care environment.

Sadly, the patient has deteriorated over the years. She needs round the clock care. Her devoted husband is caring for her.

With the settlement money, he was able to build a fully handicap-accessible home where they can spend the rest of their years. They are now in their seventies. He refuses to place his wife in an institution. Respite care is provided twice a week to give her husband a much-needed break – all made possible with the settlement funds.

Med League provides medical expert witnesses to trial lawyers. Please call us at (908)788-8227 or contact us today to discuss your next case.

This article originally appeared in Avoid Medical Errors Magazine.

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