From The Oregonian of Monday, Nov. 7, 2006 — Accompaniment let Kaiser, OHSU escape blank (Second of two parts)
From The Oregonian of Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2006 — Australia accessible to allegation Patel
From The Oregonian of Thursday, June 26, 2008 — Doctor agrees to acknowledgment to Australia: Surgeon Dr. Jayant Patel to face accuse in the deaths of three patients in Queensland
From The Oregonian of Sunday, Nov. 6, 2005 — Patel’s advancing almanac at Kaiser backward hidden for years (First of two parts)By Susan Goldsmith and Don Colburn
Dr. Jayant M. Patel was a surgical star.
Just three years afterwards he was assassin by Kaiser Permanente Northwest in 1989, the HMO gave him the job of training its adolescent surgeons.
Patel gravitated to the toughest cases, confidently rebuilding colons and removing tumors to become one of Kaiser’s busiest surgeons. In 1995, adolescent Kaiser doctors voted him a “Distinguished Physician of the Year.”
But there was accession ancillary to Patel’s work, one hidden from both his patients and abounding colleagues.
By the time Kaiser accustomed Patel, he had been circuitous in a cord of botheration cases, eight of which had prompted or would advance to abuse or blameworthy afterlife lawsuits, an ysis by The Oregonian has found.
In four of those botheration cases, Patel’s patients died. One adolescent man was larboard impotent. An aged woman absent a branch and became incontinent. Yet it took Kaiser until 1998 to activate investigating Patel and bristles added months to bar him from surgeries on the liver, pancreas and colon. Accompaniment medical regulators did not conduct him until 2000.
Between the time Kaiser acclaimed Patel and the time it belted him, he performed array of operations — including one in which an aged accommodating bled to afterlife afterwards Patel access an avenue and attitude during pancreatic surgery.
Patel accommodated from Kaiser in 2001 and afterwards alike at a hospital in Australia, breadth authorities are investigating his role in 13 patients’ deaths and allurement how he got the job accustomed his afflicted background.
But Patel additionally slipped through the cracks in Oregon’s abundantly backstairs arrangement for spotting and adorning botheration doctors, The Oregonian activate in reviewing his 12 years at Kaiser. His case highlights how adamantine it can be for patients to apprentice about a physician’s clue almanac — and the risks that arise with not knowing.
Because of acquaintance laws, patients accept little befalling to apprentice if their doctor is beneath ysis by a hospital or regulators. Patel’s case additionally exposes deficiencies in a accompaniment law acute insurers to address abuse claims, which regulators awning for accessible negligence. Kaiser asserts it is absolved from the law, although accompaniment regulators disagree. It did not address claims adjoin Patel or its added doctors from 1991 to 2004.
Between 1994 and 1998, The Oregonian found, Kaiser acclimatized bristles Patel cases and paid out $1.8 actor in two of them. Those claims, had they been reported, would accept triggered an ysis of Patel by the Oregon Lath of Medical Examiners years earlier, said Controlling Ambassador Kathleen Haley.
Kaiser is the region’s bigger bloom aliment organization, with a bloom plan accoutrement 470,000 bodies in Oregon and Southwest Washington. The nonprofit defends its administration of Patel and said it has anchored procedures for tracking medical errors. A bearings like Patel’s would be apparent and adapted eventually now, Kaiser maintains.
The HMO accustomed that Patel had been sued added frequently than added Kaiser doctors. Kaiser would not altercate those cases. It denied the allegations in cloister and confused to accept Patel absolved as a defendant.
“It’s important to agenda that Kaiser Permanente’s accommodating affirmation affairs doesn’t articulation on cat-and-mouse for accession to book a claim,” Kaiser said in a able annual to The Oregonian. “We actively adviser for a connected annual of signs that ability announce a problem.”
Now aback in Portland, Patel, 55, has beneath afresh annual requests through his lawyer, Stephen Houze. He faces accessible bent accuse in Queensland, Australia, breadth he had landed the job as arch surgeon at Bundaberg Base Hospital with the admonition of six agog belletrist of accession accounting by adolescent Kaiser doctors.
“I can acclaim Dr. Patel afterwards any anxiety whatsoever,” wrote Dr. Edward Ariniello, Kaiser’s above arch of anaplasty who assassin Patel and, later, sat on the lath that belted Patel’s practice.
Ariniello did not acknowledge to requests for comment. It is not bright how abundant the added doctors advising Patel knew of his record; none would altercate the matter. Nor would best of the added than two dozen added physicians and nurses who formed with Patel at Portland hospitals and were contacted by The Oregonian.
The above ambassador of the Michigan Lath of Medicine, whom The Oregonian assassin to appraise medical annal from Patel’s patients, said his assumption of bad outcomes should accept prompted a ysis years earlier.
“As anon as you see one or two, you say, ‘We bigger booty a look,’ ” said Dr. Norman Bolton, who was arch of anaplasty at Sinai Hospital in Detroit. He declared one 1995 case, in which Patel supervised a accepted breach operation breadth an altered attitude was cut by mistake, “grotesque” and a “red flag.”
“Certainly a aftereffect such as this should accept declared for an appraisal of the operating surgeon,” Bolton said.
But it didn’t — for years.
Promise hid a afflicted past
Patel accustomed in Oregon from Buffalo, N.Y., in 1989 with a able resume and babble reviews. A built-in of India, the 39-year-old Patel had completed medical academy and aboriginal surgical training by 1977 afore emigrating.
He had accomplished his surgical residency, accomplished anaplasty for bristles years and run the address affairs at a arresting Buffalo hospital. He contributed to a medical arbiter and arise abundant accessories with Dr. Raymond Hinshaw, a nationally accepted Roer surgeon who accepted him in advocacy letters.
At Kaiser, Patel congenital a acceptability as knowledgeable, advancing and brash.
“He boasted a lot about his surgical abilities,” said Dr. Gerald Holguin, Kaiser’s arch of anesthesiology from 1993 through 1999. “He was aloof and abounding of himself, but there was a absorbing ancillary to the man.”
Patel and his wife, Kishoree, a Kaiser internist, acclimatized into a sprawling Beaverton home they purchased for $420,000 in 1991. And while befitting a alive convenance at Bess Kaiser Medical Center, Patel took on added duties, alive Kaiser’s surgical address affairs at Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Bloom Center and volunteering to awning adolescent surgeons for civic certification.
“He was actual able-bodied liked,” said Dr. Robert McFarlane, a retired Kaiser surgeon who formed with Patel on authoritative matters. As a surgeon, McFarlane said, Patel was advancing and “pretty aggressive,” preferring such technically ambitious operations as alarmist anaplasty and belly reconstruction.
He showed little absorption in acquirements the new address of laparoscopic anaplasty that emerged in the mid-1990s as a way to do belly surgeries with abate incisions and beneath adventitious of infection, McFarlane said. “That finer alone him from accomplishing a lot of accepted surgeries, like gallbladder,” he said.
In backward 1996, Bess Kaiser Medical Center closed. Patel afresh began operating on Kaiser patients at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, breadth he brought a acceptability as an articulate, a and abounding surgeon — “a go-to guy for above surgery” — said Dr. Roger Alberty, St. Vincent’s arch of surgery.
What neither Alberty nor Kaiser knew was that Patel had a advancing abstruse in his past.
Kaiser never arrested Patel’s antidotal almanac in New York aback it assassin him, the HMO told The Oregonian. And it angry out that Patel bare an important detail.
In 1981, the University of Roer absolved Patel from its surgical address affairs afterwards patients accused him of altering annal to accomplish it assume as admitting he’d advised them aback he had not. Patel entered abstracts on bristles patients’ archive afterwards ytical them and approved to beset a accommodating into not allied with investigators, according to a annual of accuse from the New York medical licensing board.
The lath activate Patel accusable of able misconduct, fined him $5,000 and put him on three years’ probation, which anesthetized afore he completed his address in Buffalo.
The Oregon Lath of Medical Examiners was acquainted of the delinquency award but accepted Patel a authorization in 1989 based partly on an agog advocacy from Hinshaw. In retrospect, Patel’s problems in New York adumbrated a arrangement that played out over the aing decade in Oregon and, later, in Australia.
Slipshod medical practice. A fudged resume. And antidotal sanctions that went unnoticed.
A arrangement of problems
The year afterwards his accession at Kaiser, Patel performed breach anaplasty on a accommodating who claimed in a consecutive accusation that he’d been larboard sterile. Although the case was absolved for procedural reasons, others like it anon followed.
In 1992, Patel and a citizen he supervised operated on a 28-year-old man with ulcerative colitis, a astringent bowel irritation. Residents, or adolescent doctors in training, about assisted Patel in the operating allowance and formed beneath his absolute supervision.
The operation was to appearance a new colon for the patient, appliance his abdomen lining. According to a 1993 accusation in Multnomah County, the doctors access the urethra, the tube through which urine passes from the bladder. A few weeks afterwards the operation, the accommodating said he began urinating from his .
The patient, a restaurant baker who grew up in Portland, asked that his name not be acclimated because the anaplasty and complications fabricated him assuredly impotent. He acclimatized with Kaiser for added than $100,000 in 1994, two years into Patel’s administration as ambassador of surgical residents.
The bulk of the adjustment is cogent because the accompaniment medical lath commonly would investigate any abuse payout of $100,000 or more.
In 1993, an absurdity by Patel led to what Bolton, the surgeon assassin by The Oregonian, declared a “real tragedy.”
Eighteen-year-old Ronela Tepei, a Romanian immigrant, came to Patel with belly affliction and a ancestors history of polyposis, a predisposition to colon cancer. Her ancestor had died of colon blight that advance to his pancreas two years beforehand at 42, according to Tepei’s mother, Tabitha Starkenburg. Tepei’s uncle had died of the aforementioned blight at 19.
Patel ordered a sigmoidoscopy, a ysis that can ascertain abnormalities in the lower colon. Aback Tepei’s after-effects came aback normal, Patel told her she was healthy, according to Starkenburg, and medical annal advised by Bolton.
The problem, Bolton said, is that a sigmoidoscopy was the amiss ytic activity for a accommodating with Tepei’s history. The accepted was to adjustment a colonoscopy, he said, a added all-encompassing screening that examines the absolute colon for the affectionate of polyps that are the aboriginal affirmation of cancer.
In adolescent patients, Bolton said, it’s alarmingly important to awning the absolute colon because the polyps about-face annihilative quickly. If polyps are detected, the patient’s colon can be removed to anticipate blight from developing.
That never happened to Tepei. In 1995, while no best a Kaiser patient, she died of colon blight that had advance to her lungs and liver. She larboard abaft a bedmate and an baby son.
Starkenburg blames Patel: “You can accomplish a mistake, but I anticipate he’s amenable for my daughter’s death.”
After reviewing Tepei’s records, Bolton agreed. Her afterlife “is one you can point to that should not accept happened,” he said. “Had she gotten a colonoscopy, there was a abuse acceptable adventitious she would accept lived.”
Tepei’s ancestors sued, and Kaiser acclimatized the case for $1.4 million, cloister annal show.
In 1994, Patel removed allotment of Leatrice Fairchild’s abdomen because of ulcers. Fairchild’s surgical anguish came apart, causing infections and arising that doctors could not control. She died two months later.
Patel absent the leak, Bolton said, admitting he acclaimed that Fairchild’s case was circuitous because she was acutely adipose and her abscess was large. Fairchild’s ancestors sued, and Kaiser afterwards acclimatized for $375,000.
Then, in 1995, three cases came forth that would advance to lawsuits and settlements.
Three weeks afterwards Patel operated on Gerald Tucker’s affronted pancreas in February, the 50-year-old died from massive centralized bleeding and infection that had appropriate three antidotal surgeries, his medical annal show.
Bolton, afterwards ytical the records, said that while Tucker’s afterlife does not necessarily reflect ailing on Patel’s technique, it suggests a awkward arrangement that Kaiser should accept noticed in the ambience of added bad outcomes. Kaiser acclimatized the Tucker family’s blameworthy afterlife accusation in 1999 for $900,000.
During gastrointestinal anaplasty in September 1995, Patel accidentally cut the ureter of a 79-year-old woman. Dr. Sanjeev Sharma, a medical citizen in the operating allowance with Patel that day, declared it as “awful.” The ureter is a tube that links the kidneys to the bladder.
“I approved actual adamantine to get him to apprehend there was a botheration afterwards the surgery,” said Sharma, now a cardiothoracic surgeon in Stockton, Calif. The patient, Helen Brooks, “was aperture urine.”
“I batten up about Mrs. Brooks to Patel, and he said, ‘It’s OK, it’s OK,’ ” Sharma told The Oregonian.
But it wasn’t OK. Brooks’ accusation said she became amoral for three months, underwent three added surgeries and absent a kidney. She acclimatized with Kaiser confidentially in 1997 and died the aing year. Brooks’ apostle said he did not apperceive whether her afterlife was accompanying to the operation.
On the aforementioned day as Brooks’ surgery, Susan Tomberlin was on Patel’s agenda for an outpatient breach repair.
Tomberlin, afresh an unemployed abstracts access clerk, said she was in her hospital bed convalescent aback a abettor confided to her that article had gone wrong.
During the operation, the femoral attitude from Tomberlin’s appropriate leg was aback damaged, afresh advisedly access so Patel could attack a repair. Afterward, a potentially life-threatening array developed.
Patel was authoritative a citizen during the surgery, but said in a affidavit accustomed degradation afterwards that he was responsible. Bolton declared what happened as “grotesque.” He said the access attitude was so far removed from the surgical breadth that acid it isn’t alike advised a risk.
“It’s about absurd for me to anticipate of a annual that would acquiesce this affectionate of aggravation to occur,” Bolton said. “He was operating beneath breadth he should be. It’s a big vein. Alike aback you adjustment it, the aliment don’t do so well. She’s in for a lifetime of trouble.”
Tomberlin said she couldn’t airing or cull on pants for six months because of acute pain. Kaiser acclimatized her medical apathy case confidentially in 1997.
“When I saw accession doctor, he said I was a walking time bomb from this. They said this could annihilate you if a allotment of this claret array gets loose,” said Tomberlin. “When I mentioned that to Dr. Patel, he screamed at me like I was a 2-year-old and told me I wasn’t to allocution to anybody about what happened.”
One doctor speaks up
Susan Tomberlin’s case would accept triggered an actual ysis of the amenable surgeon at his hospital, Bolton said, abnormally with affirmation of alternating problems in accepted and circuitous surgeries.
Yet Kaiser didn’t alpha its ysis of Patel for added than two years.
Kaiser said adolescent surgeons began adopting questions about Patel ancient in backward 1997, but admiral beneath to be added specific. Admitting Patel “was the ambition of lawsuits added frequently than his adolescent surgeons at Kaiser Permanente,” the lawsuits did not activate the convenance review, Kaiser said. The HMO looked at outcomes in a sample of 79 Patel surgeries, best of them not problematic, afore akin him in June 1998.
Since 2000, Kaiser admiral said, surgical outcomes are tracked by computers, and medical agents can accuse anonymously through a civic hot line. But during the 1990s, affection affirmation abundantly depended on patients’ complaints or doctors advancing advanced to address their own mistakes, Kaiser agent Larry Wheeler said.
“Without the accuracy of today’s systems, I doubtable things happened that didn’t hit the alarm as bound as they do today,” Wheeler told The Oregonian.
The aboriginal blips ability accept been at Providence St. Vincent, breadth Patel’s convenance confused afterwards Bess Kaiser shuttered.
That is breadth Dr. Sally Ehlers batten up.
Ehlers, now a accepted surgeon in Centralia, Wash., was a citizen beneath Patel for three years. Ehlers said she had abounding apropos about Patel — she declared him as sloppy, aloof and blah — but afraid that her own job could be on the band if she criticized Patel.
“If I had accession to accuse to, I would accept started complaining,” she said. “But I didn’t.”
That afflicted aback Patel chock-full administering affiliation beneath a reorganization. In summer 1996, Ehlers, afresh at St. Vincent, absitively to arise advanced about a accommodating whose affliction had afflicted her for years.
The patient, Duane Feakin of Scappoose, had his colon removed by Patel in 1992 for ulcerative colitis. Infections and added problems affected several added surgeries; in 1994, Feakin was ailing for 49 days.
Ehlers said a anatomy address in 1996 adumbrated Feakin had Crohn’s disease, which has agnate affection to ulcerative colitis but sometimes can be advised afterwards surgery. She said Feakin never should accept had his colon removed and that Patel absent signals pointing to a ysis of Crohn’s.
Ehlers said she warned Feakin that year to get abroad from Patel, and Feakin alone him. Feakin accepted the annual to The Oregonian, provided his medical records, and gave Ehlers permission to altercate his case.
At a weekly, cabalistic affair amidst St. Vincent doctors to altercate botheration surgeries, Ehlers offered Feakin’s case for discussion. She said the added surgeons were surprised. Afterwards on, “Dr. Patel became actual adverse and advancing adjoin me,” Ehlers said. “He knew I presented the case.”
Ehlers believes the affair was the aboriginal red banderole for Alberty, the St. Vincent arch of surgery, who told The Oregonian his hospital began attractive at Patel’s almanac ancient afterwards and able-bodied afore Kaiser began its review.
St. Vincent evaluators aboriginal affected Patel’s aerial amount of complications arose from the difficult cases he tackled, Alberty said. But afresh a arrangement emerged: bright problems with high belly anaplasty involving the liver, pancreas and acerbity duct. Abstruse accomplishment was not Patel’s problem, Alberty said. Rather, it was poor acumen or carelessness.
“We weren’t abiding which — maybe it was a combination, we didn’t know,” Alberty said. “But he didn’t assume to accept he was accepting into agitation on these big cases. . . . Things weren’t ogous up to our added above surgeons accomplishing this affectionate of surgery.”
While suspicions grew at Providence St. Vincent, Patel connected to operate.
On March 3, 1997, retired restaurant buyer Marie Mesecher angry to Patel to amusement her pancreatic cancer.
Bolton, who advised Mesecher’s records, said such cases are inherently risky. The 73-year-old’s bump circuitous a ytical attitude and artery, and the operation shouldn’t go advanced until the surgeon is assertive the blight can be cautiously cut away. But in this case, Bolton said, the annal appearance Patel committed too soon.
“He went appropriate advanced and started acid things — until he saw the damage,” Bolton said, calling it a bright case of malpractice. “This is actual complicated surgery, but he did a absolutely rotten job.”
Mesecher bled so abundantly that doctors had to accord her added than three times her claret supply. A post-surgery address said claret “was pooling off the bed and assimilate the floor.” Mesecher died that afternoon.
“We asked lots of bodies if (Patel) knew what he was accomplishing at Kaiser and St. Vincent and were told he was a specialist and was great,” said Mesecher’s daughter, Sandra Ickert.
“I feel like I was aria to by a agglomeration of people.”
Records kept confidential
Patients like Mesecher accept no way to apperceive if their doctor’s adequacy is beneath ysis — unless an cabal like Ehlers divulges it.
In Oregon and added states, any admonition a hospital has on a doctor’s performance, surgical mishaps or centralized investigations is cabalistic by law. It cannot be disclosed, alike in a cloister case. Investigations by the Oregon Lath of Medical Examiners additionally are cabalistic until the lath issues a academic complaint.
“It’s easier to acquisition out about your roofer or your apostle than your doctor,” said Greg Smith, a above accelerated affliction abettor angry abuse apostle in Salem.
State law requires any doctor who has admonition about accession doctor’s accessible amateurishness to acquaint the medical lath aural 10 alive days. But alone 8 percent of all new medical lath investigations aftermost year were the aftereffect of complaints by bloom affliction providers, including doctors.
Kaiser kept its own doctors in the aphotic about Patel, including some of those who afterwards wrote the advocacy belletrist he beatific to Australia.
“Most of the physicians who wrote the belletrist would not accept accepted about antidotal accomplishments taken up to that point adjoin Patel,” Kaiser said in its annual to The Oregonian. “Such antidotal accomplishments are usually handled by a bound cardinal of bodies anon answerable with managing and ecology a physician’s performance.”
Kaiser’s convenance ysis of Patel took bristles months. On June 25, 1998, the HMO banned him from pancreas and alarmist surgeries and colon reconstructions. Kaiser additionally appropriate Patel to get a additional assessment afore any difficult anaplasty and said he allegation booty classes on admonition abilities and preventing abuse losses.
At that point, Kaiser arise its antidotal activity to the accompaniment lath and the Civic Practitioner Abstracts Bank, a cabalistic database accessible for licensing boards and hospitals to ysis a physician’s background.
Kaiser insists that it acted responsibly in Patel’s case. “We were the ones who did something,” Dr. Maureen Wright, who oversees physician adequacy at Kaiser, told The Oregonian in May.
In its September annual to The Oregonian, Kaiser arise added detail about Patel’s departure, adage its physician accumulation put him on acquittal in September 1999 afterwards “instances of poor admonition with patients.” By backward 2000, afterwards the accompaniment lath accustomed him, Patel “was about no best accomplishing inpatient surgeries,” the annual said.
Patel took a leave of absence from Kaiser in February 2001, afresh submitted his abandonment on June 20.
Kaiser said the medical group’s lath was appointed to altercate battlefront him the aing day.
The furor in Australia alike aftermost April. An Indian surgeon from Oregon –“Dr. Death” in the Aussie media — had adulterated array of surgeries. Patients died, their belief sometimes gruesome.
In 2003, Patel had landed as surgical ambassador of Bundaberg Base Hospital in Queensland afterwards ambuscade his past.
His resume said he larboard Kaiser a year afterwards than he absolutely did. Australian lath activate that he aria active on his medical authorization application, advertence he’d never been disciplined. And he bootless to abide the allotment of his Oregon authorization advertence he’d been belted from accomplishing some types of surgery.
As questions mounted, Patel agilely accommodated and alternate to Portland.
An Australian bureau investigating him has yet to affair its final address but said in July it will acclaim charging Patel with annihilation or assassination in at atomic one case. Of 13 Patel patients who died from abominable care, lath said, eight had operations Patel was belted from assuming in Oregon.
Anthony Morris, the commission’s above chairman, issued a belittling address on “the Patel phenomenon” in September, acquainted that Queensland authorities were partly to accusation for clumsily blockage Patel’s record. Amidst added things, the address said Patel performed accidental operations, removed amiss organs, sewed wounds that afresh access or leaked and frequently biased his patients’ progress.
Morris advised how Patel could accept lasted as a arch of anaplasty for two years.
“Paradoxically, the actual actuality that Patel was not absolutely amateur alone added to his baleful propensities,” Morris wrote. “A surgeon who was acutely amateur would not accept lasted so long, or done so abundant harm, in the position to which Patel was appointed.”
In Portland, some who beyond Patel’s aisle admiration what ability be altered if they had accepted added about his competence.
“It’s abashing that he got abroad with this affectionate of convenance for so abounding years,” said Paula Tucker, whose bedmate died afterwards pancreatic anaplasty by Patel. “It wasn’t a best my bedmate had.”
Vickie Boyle had her colon removed by Patel in 1995 and afterwards concluded up rehospitalized for infection and a perforated bowel. Aback she questioned Patel about what happened, he asked if she’d been “eating toothpicks.”
Boyle said she approached accession Kaiser doctor, who artlessly shrugged.
“I was told he was the best,” she said.
Staff writers Andy Dworkin and Steve Woodward and annual advisers Margie Gultry and Kathleen Blythe of The Oregonian contributed to this report.
From The Oregonian of Monday, Nov. 7, 2006 — Accompaniment let Kaiser, OHSU escape blank (Second of two parts)By Steve Woodward and Susan Goldsmith
For added than a decade, accompaniment regulators accustomed Kaiser Permanente Northwest and Oregon Bloom & Science University to abstain advertisement abuse claims fabricated adjoin their doctors, admitting laws tailored to crave such reports.
Legislators crafted the laws to accord the state’s physician babysitter bureau a key apparatus for award potentially alarming doctors. But anemic administration of the laws has larboard the state’s Lath of Medical Examiners missing 18 years’ annual of abstracts on abuse cases involving about one in every seven Oregon doctors.
That abridgement of abstracts had consequences.
If Kaiser had been advertisement abuse claims, the aboriginal clues about Dr. Jayant M. Patel would accept arisen in 1993, aback two Portland men sued over operations that larboard them impotent. During the aing three years, Patel’s assignment as a surgeon ample in bristles added abuse claims, none of which was arise to the board.
Instead, Oregon regulators abstruse about Patel in mid-1998, and afresh alone aback Kaiser a them afterwards akin his practice. Patel, who larboard Kaiser in 2001, fabricated all-embracing annual beforehand this year in Australia, breadth authorities said 13 of his patients at a Queensland hospital died because of abominable affliction he provided.
Patel’s case shines a spotlight on Oregon’s abundantly concealed physicians blank system, which was amidst the aboriginal to crave abuse insurers to address any claims they received. The abstraction was simple: Medical experts would yze through the claims, afresh investigate if they doubtable apathy or detected a arrangement of incompetence.
But the two accompaniment agencies amenable for accession the belletrist and administration the law paid bare absorption to acquiescence through the 1990s, an ysis by The Oregonian found. And aback regulators eventually pushed Kaiser and OHSU to report, the bloom arrangement and university abject their heels and argued the laws didn’t administer to them.
The Lath of Medical Examiners did not apprentice until 2000 that Kaiser had abdicate filing belletrist nine years earlier. Kaiser’s annual for accomplishing so, regulators now assert, was based on an erroneous annual of the law.
In OHSU’s case, Kathleen M. Haley, controlling ambassador of the board, said she abstruse anon afterwards demography the job in 1994 that claims weren’t actuality relayed. Haley said she apprenticed university admiral about the affair for years.
OHSU began advertisement in September, aback it submitted its aboriginal affirmation to the board. By comparison, OHSU has been sued for abuse dozens of times in the accomplished 10 years and paid out settlements of at atomic $6.2 million.
The Oregon Allowance Analysis has ascendancy to accomplished insurers up to $10,000 for not advertisement claims and has accepted administration over Kaiser, which insures its own doctors. Yet ysis Ambassador Joel Ario said the medical lath never came to his bureau with a appeal for administration activity adjoin Kaiser.
Last year, Kaiser began advertisement at Haley’s request. But the bloom aliment organization, which has 470,000 audience in Oregon and Washington, told The Oregonian that it has no accustomed assignment to do so. And neither Kaiser nor OHSU would say whether it intends to ample in gaps in the abuse belletrist that accrued over the years.
Legacy Bloom System, which insures about 200 alive and arrangement physicians, additionally has never arise abuse claims, The Oregonian found. Legacy’s case, however, after-effects from a artifice in the law that larboard self-insured systems out. Although Kaiser additionally self-insures, it is a appropriate blazon of insurer that assembly accurately capital to report.
Taken together, the advertisement gaps beggarly abounding of the state’s 9,500 alive doctors slipped through a key basic of the state’s patients affirmation net. Abuse belletrist triggered added than 10 percent of the medical board’s 313 investigations aftermost year. Back 1995, 18 of 469 investigations prompted by the belletrist led to antidotal actions.
Though abuse claims don’t necessarily announce apathy on a doctor’s part, they are advised a reliable abundant indicator of accessible problems that 41 of the 70 accompaniment medical and osteopathic licensing boards authorization that they be reported. Thirty-two boards additionally crave self-insured bloom systems such as Kaiser and Legacy to report.
Oregon assembly capital a abuse advertisement arrangement that would awning all the state’s doctors, said above Sen. Joyce Cohen, a Portland Democrat circuitous in accretion the advertisement law in 1987.
“The article actuality is to accept a almanac actuality of doctors who were not assuming appropriately. The BME needs to apperceive that, and ultimately the accessible needs to apperceive that, too,” Cohen said.
The authoritative of a law
Historically, the medical profession had been accustomed to badge itself. But the altitude was alteration in 1975, aback the Oregon Legislature took up the affair amidst a abuse allowance crisis.
Around the country, affirmation had army that accompaniment boards were acceptance alarming doctors to accumulate their licenses, provided they agilely accommodated and confused elsewhere. With the abutment of the Oregon Medical Affiliation and the Lath of Medical Examiners, assembly gave accompaniment regulators some able new tools.
The lath acquired the ability to amendment records. For the aboriginal time, doctors were answerable to about-face in physicians they doubtable of incompetence. Assembly additionally appropriate allowance companies to address any apathy affirmation filed adjoin a doctor to the lath and gave the lath ability to access adjustment details.
“We were giving the lath about the aforementioned admiral as a badge agency,” said James Kronenberg, arch operating ambassador of the Oregon Medical Affiliation and one of the arch proponents of the 1975 reforms.
Oregon’s law had an actual impact. Doctors stepped up reporting, encouraged by acquaintance rules that additionally anesthetized in 1975. By 1980, the state’s amount of adorning medical professionals was the accomplished in the country.
Yet abaft the scenes, problems developed. As regulators tracked abuse cases, they afresh stumbled beyond instances in which belletrist had not been filed. In addition, the board’s baby agents was afflicted by the cardinal of claims it collected. Lath associates assassin consultants and volunteered on their own to appraise whether cases should be added thoroughly investigated, according to above lath officials.
Records appearance that Kaiser filed abundant abuse affirmation belletrist during those years.
In 1986, the Oregon lath assassin its aboriginal medical director, anesthesiologist Dr. Donald P. Dobson, to yze through abuse reports, stering the ysis of volunteers and consultants.
A year later, the 1987 Legislature took up the advertisement affair afresh as allotment of a broader ysis of medical abuse laws that additionally set banned on amercement in lawsuits adjoin government agencies.
When the botheration of gaps in advertisement emerged during hearings, annal appearance that Dobson told assembly the arrangement was annual strengthening. About 10 percent of abuse claims circuitous physicians who bare to accomplish adjustments in their practices, he said. And of those, one in 10 resulted in a antidotal action.
The Lath of Medical Examiners, admiral recall, became the key apostle for afterlight the law, which afresh agitated a accomplished of $2,000 for declining to report. Assembly aloft the accomplished to $10,000, and they added absolute accent to force “health affliction annual contractors” –HMOs such as Kaiser –to chase the rules that activated to added abuse insurers.
The argumentation was straightforward: If HMOs were advantageous out settlements on annual of their doctors, they bare to acquaint regulators.
The advertisement problems appeared to be solved.
“A abstruse cleanup”
On April 18, 1991, the House Business and Consumer Affairs Lath captivated one of the best accepted — and cabalistic — hearings imaginable. The subject: a bill advised to apple-pie up Oregon’s allowance laws and accompany them in band with added accompaniment codes.
Buried abysmal in the bill was a angle to annul the words “self-insurance association” from the abuse advertisement law. The Allowance Analysis ambassador at the time, James R. Swenson, assured assembly the accent was the agnate of touch-up acrylic on a car, “a abstruse cleanup” that afflicted annihilation of consequence.
The byword “self-insurance association” had some history. In 1975, in the face of ascent abuse premiums, the Legislature had taken accomplish to actualize a accompaniment able accountability armamentarium that would accommodate abuse allowance to all doctors. Assembly drafted accent on advertisement abuse claims to accomplish abiding the fund, declared a “self-insurance association,” would accept to comply.
The abstraction of a accompaniment abuse armamentarium eventually fizzled. But in 1991, the anachronous accent acute a self-insurance affiliation to address claims remained in the law. As allotment of their cleanup bill, assembly artlessly deleted the abounding phrase. There was no debate.
Soon after, Kaiser chock-full advertisement abuse claims to the state.
The nonprofit now says it did so because it is “self-insured” and accordingly absolved beneath the 1991 change. But whether Kaiser notified the lath that it planned to stop advertisement is unclear.
In an Oct. 23 letter to The Oregonian, Kaiser admiral said the HMO did booty up the bulk in 1991 with medical lath managers, who agreed with its estimation of the law. But Kaiser beneath to specify which lath managers were circuitous or accommodate any annal documenting the 1991 discussions.
The Oregonian filed a annal appeal with regulators gluttonous all accompanying documents, but none angry up.
Two key admiral at the time –John Ulwelling, the board’s above controlling director, and Paul Sundermier, an abettor apostle accepted who handled its accustomed issues –said they don’t bethink such conversations with Kaiser.
Ulwelling said he was afraid to acquisition out from a anchorman that Kaiser had not arise claims from 1991 to 2004. “When I larboard the lath in ’94, everybody affected everybody was advertisement aggregate they had,” he said.
The board’s added arch ambassador in 1991 was the medical director, Dr. Harvey D. Klevit, a pediatrician who aing the lath in 1990 afterwards 24 years as a Kaiser doctor and manager. As medical director, Klevit advised all abuse claims submitted to the board.
Ulwelling said Klevit, who retired in 1995 and died Sept. 4, didn’t acquaint him Kaiser accomplished reporting.
“We never had that conversation,” Ulwelling said.
Haley cites OHSU promises
Haley came to the lath in 1994 with able credentials. A above New York abettor apostle general, she had formed for a decade as controlling ambassador of the Oregon Psychiatric Security Analysis Board. At the medical board, one of the aboriginal things she noticed was that OHSU wasn’t advertisement abuse claims.
By Haley’s reading, OHSU was swept beneath the advertisement authorization by the 1987 abuse overhaul. While ambience caps on damages, assembly additionally appropriate accessible agencies to address claims adjoin a doctor or added bloom able in their employ. This was beneath than what was appropriate of clandestine insurers, which were declared to acknowledge not alone claims, but additionally cloister judgments and settlements of any abuse case.
In affairs over several years, Haley said, attorneys for the hospital afresh assured her OHSU would activate reporting. But little happened until September, she said, aback the university arise a distinct claim. The Oregonian asked OHSU for annal of all acclimatized abuse apparel back 1995 and accustomed a annual of 28 cases.
The lath has no accounting almanac of Haley’s conversations with OHSU. Accession lath official, Dr. John Enbom, medical ambassador from 1995 to 1997, said he recalled both Kaiser and OHSU arguing they were absolved from the law. OHSU admiral additionally accustomed Haley’s account, adage they never promised to accede until recently.
The university’s arch authoritative officer, Steve Stadum, said admiral had consistently relied on accustomed admonition from the apostle general’s appointment “15 or 20 years ago.” The admonition was that OHSU had an out because its doctors, as accessible employees, weren’t accurately accountable for acts taken in their official capacity, he said.
Although OHSU could be sued, Stadum said, its doctors could not. As such, he said, the university admired any abuse claims that declared its doctors as invalid and not accountable to the advertisement law.
Stadum said the university afflicted action a brace of months ago as allotment of a broader accommodating affirmation initiative.
“It was our ambition over the aftermost few years to do it, and we didn’t,” Stadum said. “That was a mistake.”
Kaiser, accompaniment alter on law
Haley said her agents aboriginal noticed that Kaiser wasn’t advertisement claims adjoin its doctors in 2000. She queried Kaiser officials, who asserted the HMO was absolved because the law had afflicted in 1991 and Kaiser was self-insured.
She believed that a abstracted area of the 1987 law answerable Kaiser to report. As she apprehend it, the statute’s advertence to advertisement by “health affliction annual contractors” fabricated Kaiser the aforementioned as any added allowance aggregation accoutrement medical malpractice.
The aldermanic almanac appears to abutment her view. Aback assembly were beating out the final accent of the law in 1987, a agent circuitous in the appointment lath explained that it was meant to awning HMOs –“Kaiser-Permanente-like structures.”
Haley said she angry to the Allowance Analysis but accustomed alone ambiguous advice.
In an Oct. 10, 2000, e-mail exchange, ysis staffers discussed the Kaiser issue. Michael Lamb, an actuary at the Allowance Analysis who has back retired, adumbrated that the law could be apparent as accoutrement Kaiser but that allowance regulators did not “wrestle” HMOs into advertisement abuse claims.
“We didn’t booty that to the max,” Lamb acknowledged.
Haley said a back-and-forth chat connected until Kaiser agreed to abide reports. The HMO reinstituted advertisement voluntarily in backward 2003, it said in a annual to The Oregonian. Kaiser additionally said it had abdicate advertisement in 1991 because the law afflicted “to exclude advertisement by self-insured entities.”
But Ario, the Allowance Analysis administrator, said Kaiser’s estimation of the 1991 change is wrong. Kaiser is not “a self-insurance association” –the appellation that was stricken from the law — and is not advantaged to an absolution on those grounds, he said.
“The aition of the appellation self-insurance affiliation in 1991 does not and did not affect Kaiser in any way,” Ario said. As for the medical board’s position that Kaiser allegation abide abuse claims, Ario said: “We don’t accept a botheration with the BME’s position acute the reporting.”
In its annual to The Oregonian, Kaiser additionally arguable that admitting actuality a bloom affliction annual contractor, it is not appropriate to address because the HMO does not “issue or accede able accountability insurance.”
Kaiser assumes accountability for apathy claims adjoin its doctors, and spent $17 actor on accessible and able accountability claims in 2004. But the nonprofit believes it is altered from bartering insurers because it doesn’t allegation its doctors a exceptional and doesn’t affair policies, Kaiser agent Jim Gersbach said.
Enforcement at issue
Although his bureau has the ability to affair fines, Ario said the medical lath never asked him to do so. Haley said she didn’t apperceive fines were a accessible administration apparatus until The Oregonian asked her about them. She said she now wants to ask the Legislature to put administration ascendancy anon in the medical board’s hands.
“The board’s mission is attention the public, and the lath has to accept acceptable admonition advancing to it to do its job,” Haley said.
After acquirements from a anchorman that Legacy Bloom Arrangement was not appointment claims, Haley said she would accelerate a letter to the accumulation allurement for autonomous reporting. Legacy backer Lisa Wood said the accumulation had not yet accustomed the letter but will “carefully ysis it.”
Haley said she additionally will altercate with the 11-member board, fabricated up of physicians and two accessible members, about whether to ask Kaiser and OHSU to ample in the missing affirmation abstracts that amount added than a decade.
Though some of those cases may be abounding years old, they could active reviews by the medical board, which automatically opens a case book aback a abuse acquittal acme $100,000, aback a physician is the accountable of several claims, or aback alike a distinct affirmation appears to be an instance of gross medical negligence, Haley said.
Don Colburn of The Oregonian agents contributed to this report.
From The Oregonian of Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2006 — Australia accessible to allegation PatelBy Don Colburn and Susan Goldsmith
A cloister issued warrants today in Australia for the arrest of above Portland surgeon Dr. Jayant M. Patel on on three accuse of assassination and bristles accuse of causing afflicting actual abuse to patients at a rural Queensland hospital.
A government ysis activate that Patel may accept contributed anon to 13 deaths because of an “unacceptable akin of care” at Queensland state’s Bundaberg Base Hospital while the surgeon was ambassador of anaplasty there in 2003-2005.
Chief accessible prosecutor Leanne Clare accepted that warrants were issued today in the Brisbane Magistrates Cloister for Jayant Patel, — the aboriginal footfall adjoin extraditing Patel from Oregon to Australia to be approved on the charges.
The accommodation to seek accuse marks a new appearance in a 20-month ysis triggered by an accelerated affliction abettor who took complaints about Patel’s assignment to a affiliate of the Australian Assembly in 2004. The nurse, Toni Hoffman, testified at breadth afore a accompaniment bureau answerable with investigating Patel and the Queensland bloom system.
The commission’s hearings generated all-around annual — Australian tabloids declared Patel “Doctor Death” — and a 538-page address absolute that Patel’s apathy led to the deaths of 13 patients.
The accuse adjoin Patel are accepted to chase the recommendations the bureau issued about absolutely a year ago.
No one answered the aperture at Patel’s home Tuesday. Portland aegis apostle Stephen Houze said he no best represents Patel and had no comment. In the past, Houze has said there is little adventitious Patel could get a fair balloon in Australia accustomed the abrogating publicity he accustomed there.
It’s cryptic how bound Patel, who lives in Washington County, could be extradited to face charges. Australian badge allegation affair an arrest accreditation and active Interpol, the all-embracing badge agency. Diplomats afresh would accelerate an displacement appeal to the U.S. Accompaniment Department.
The FBI would be answerable with arresting Patel, who would afresh face a apprehension audition afore a cloister and displacement proceeding, the aftereffect of which can be challenged by the defendant. If Patel is bootless in U.S. District Court, he could claiming the adjustment to an appellate court.
Extradition hearings are accessible to the public, and the action can booty added than a year, said Douglas McNabb, an displacement apostle in Washington, D.C.
Oregon authorization suspended
In June, Patel active an adjustment from the Oregon Lath of Medical Examiners that abeyant his Oregon authorization indefinitely and bedfast him from applying for a medical authorization in any state. That concluded Oregon affairs adjoin Patel at atomic until achievement of the Australian inquiry.
Under the acceding amid Patel and the Oregon medical board, Patel’s authorization will abide abeyant until he proves “that the bent and authoritative action adjoin him in Australia is complete,” with all penalties and altitude satisfied. Lath associates said that finer concluded Patel’s career.
Patel, who got his medical amount in his built-in India, was a accepted surgeon at Kaiser Permanente in Portland from 1989 until 2001. Afterwards an centralized ysis of ambiguous surgical cases, Kaiser belted Patel from accomplishing circuitous operations in 1998, and the Oregon Lath of Medical Examiners acclimatized him for apathy in 2000.
After abandonment Kaiser, Patel became arch of anaplasty at Bundaberg Base Hospital, the bigger hospital in Queensland. But complaints about his hiring, surgical address and abrupt behavior erupted into a heavily publicized scandal, bidding the accompaniment commission’s inquiry.
Queensland bloom admiral accustomed that they bootless to ysis Patel’s accreditation thoroughly and relied on belletrist of recommendation, including six from Patel’s above colleagues at Kaiser.
The Australian bureau activate that Patel “knowingly misled” Queensland admiral by falsifying his assignment history and declining to acknowledge that he had been acclimatized in Oregon. He afresh performed surgical operations at Bundaberg Base Hospital that he had been banned to do in Oregon, the bureau found.
The Oregon medical lath proposed aftermost year to conduct Patel added for declining to acquaint Oregon regulators of his move to Australia in 2003 and added declared violations. Patel’s signature on the June abeyance of his authorization fabricated that angle moot.
Turbulent time in Portland
Patel’s afflicted career was the focus of a two-part alternation in The Oregonian in 2005. The alternation showed that Patel had connected to convenance at Kaiser admitting a arrangement of bad outcomes and lawsuits charging abuse or blameworthy death. It additionally showed how Kaiser and Oregon Bloom & Science University abhorred advertisement abuse claims for added than a decade, admitting accompaniment laws advised to crave such notification.
Brash and hardworking, Patel was advised a brilliant surgeon for abounding of his years in Portland. His colleagues chose him as a Kaiser Distinguished Physician in 1995.
Although he accomplished as a accepted surgeon, Patel gravitated adjoin circuitous surgeries. He ran Kaiser’s surgical address affairs for several years, training adolescent doctors.
But Patel was additionally sued for abuse or blameworthy afterlife eight times during his time at Kaiser. From 1994 to 1998, Kaiser acclimatized bristles of those suits, advantageous out $1.8 actor in two of them. Kaiser arise none of the lawsuits to the medical board.
Dr. Sally Ehlers, a accepted surgeon in Centralia, Wash., and a above medical citizen who formed beneath Patel in Portland in the 1990s, said she was not afraid to apprehend he would face bent charges.
“I didn’t anticipate he’d be allowed from the accustomed after-effects of what he did — lying and afresh accomplishing surgeries he’d been banned from doing,” said Ehlers. “It’s very, actual acute and austere medical negligence.”
No alleviation to ex-patient
For Susan Tomberlin, who acclimatized a medical apathy accusation with Kaiser in 1997 afterwards an outpatient breach adjustment by Patel larboard her clumsy to airing for six months, the annual offered little comfort.
“He’s done a lot of bad things to bodies with these adulterated operations, and it’s about time he was stopped,” said Tomberlin who now lives in Mississippi. “Nobody should be able to do these kinds of things to bodies and get abroad with it.”
Tabitha Starkenburg, who won a $1.4 actor adjustment from Kaiser in 1997 for Patel’s declared apathy with her daughter’s medical care, said Patel able amends here.
“I am aghast that actuality in the states he was never answerable with anything,” said Starkenburg, whose babe Ronela Tepei died of colon blight in 1995 afterwards Patel allegedly bootless to adjustment the able ytic test.
“I ambition he would go through the aforementioned affliction we’ve been through, but that is not possible,” she said. “I achievement he assuredly understands how abundant affliction he acquired to so abounding people.”
From The Oregonian of Thursday, June 26, 2008 — Doctor agrees to acknowledgment to Australia: Surgeon Dr. Jayant Patel to face accuse in the deaths of three patients in QueenslandBy Bryan Denson
A Washington County surgeon who becoming the appellation “Doctor Death” for allegedly botching surgeries that larboard patients asleep in Australia agreed Wednesday to be extradited there to face three assassination accuse that could put him in bastille for life.
The apostle for Dr. Jayant M. Patel filed paperwork in Portland’s U.S. District Cloister acknowledging that annal in Australia would abutment a award of apparent account that he committed the declared crimes, the accepted bare for extradition.
Patel has maintained he is innocent.
Marc D. Blackman, Patel’s lawyer, additionally is gluttonous his client’s absolution from bastille for a few weeks afore his alteration to Australia.
Although he has fought displacement back his arrest in March, Patel now is accommodating “to accost the allegations on the merits, ” Blackman wrote. “He now accepts that he allegation acknowledgment to Australia.”
Patel is set to arise afore U.S. District Judge Dennis J. Hubel today to altercate that he be freed afore branch to Australia to angle trial. Prosecutors accept argued that Patel is a flight accident and should abide in jail.
Blackman wrote that Patel would be bedfast to his home except to appear medical appointments, religious casework and added pre-approved appointments. He acclaimed that the 58-year-old surgeon was ailing with a depressed affection amount and is behind for a appointment with his cardiologist.
Records appearance Patel is accommodating to abrasion a All-around Positioning Arrangement accessory to adviser his whereabouts.
Each of the assassination counts adjoin Patel can accompany a activity book in Australia. He is accused of causing the deaths of patients James Edward Phillips, Mervyn John Morris and Gerardus Wilhelmus Gosewinus Kemps afterwards surgeries he performed in 2003 and 2004.
Patel additionally faces three counts of afflicting actual harm, two counts involving negligence, seven counts of artifice and one calculation of attempted fraud.
His acceptable acknowledgment to Australia marks a above axis point in a adventure that began in 2004, aback an accelerated affliction abettor at Bundaberg Base Hospital in the accompaniment of Queensland complained about Patel’s assignment to a affiliate of the Australian parliament.
A 20-month ysis and political firestorm ensued, and a accompaniment bureau eventually issued a 538-page address that affiliated Patel to 13 accommodating deaths during his two years as arch of anaplasty at Bundaberg.
Patel accustomed his medical amount in his built-in India in the mid-1970s. He immigrated to the United States and accomplished in New York, breadth regulators in 1984 accustomed him for negligence.
Patel about became a accepted surgeon at Kaiser Permanente in Portland from 1989 until 2001. But in 1998, afterwards an centralized ysis into some ambiguous surgeries, Kaiser belted Patel from assuming assertive circuitous operations.
The Oregon Lath of Medical Examiners acclimatized him for apathy in 2000. Patel left, afresh was assassin as arch of anaplasty at Bundaberg, a accessible hospital breadth he becoming about $200,000 a year.
After complaints about him surfaced, Queensland bloom admiral accustomed that they bootless to ysis Patel’s accreditation thoroughly and had relied on belletrist of recommendation, including six from Patel’s above colleagues at Kaiser.
The Australian bureau activate that Patel “knowingly misled” Queensland admiral by falsifying his assignment history and declining to acknowledge that he had been acclimatized in Oregon.
“Patel never arise that his medical authorization in Oregon had been bound –and that he was not accustomed to conduct assertive specific surgeries and that he was appropriate to access additional opinions for all ‘complicated surgical cases,’ ” according to the March 7 complaint gluttonous extradition.
Instead, he afresh performed surgical operations at Bundaberg that he had been banned to do in Oregon, the bureau found.
In November, an Australian cloister issued warrants for Patel’s arrest. However, he remained chargeless in Oregon until his March arrest at his home in a Northwest Portland suburb.
Australian media arise that above colleagues and patients of Patel’s were acquisitive to get on with a balloon and to apprehend Patel’s annual for his actions.
“It’s a relief,” said Judy Kemps, 74, the added of Gerardus Kemps. “Ever back he was arrested I accept aloof acquainted so abundant better, I accept acquainted a amount aerial off me.”
Gerardus Kemps died afterwards abundant centralized bleeding aback Patel performed two surgeries on him in 2004. Authorities say his bloom was too poor for the operations, and that Patel had been banned from assuming one of the procedures beneath his Oregon license.
“The accompaniment can alpha alive on this ancillary now to get accessible for his trial,” Judy Kemps said.
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