In June, our blog reported on how the Texas Medical Board failed to take action against a physician who fled to Texas after facing nine medical malpractice suits in Minnesota, raising questions about whether state officials here and across the U.S. were adequately addressing the issue of physician discipline.
Specifically, the post discussed Dr. Stefan K., a neurosurgeon who formerly practiced for St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota.
According to The Duluth News Tribune, Dr. Stefan K. and St. Luke's were sued for medical malpractice at least nine times. In 2009, the two parties paid over $3.2 million to settle six of these lawsuits, which alleged that several of Dr. Stefan K.'s patients died or were seriously injured while under his care.
The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice did go on to sanction Dr. Stefan K. for "unethical and unprofessional conduct" and ordered him to have a pre-approved supervising physician observe at least five of his surgeries. However, he had already moved to Texas, where he also has a license to practice, and where no disciplinary action was taken.
(A spokeswoman for the Texas Medical Board told The Duluth News Tribune that it usually adopts another state's disciplinary actions when a physician moves to practice, but could offer no explanation as to why that did not happen here.)
In recent developments, St. Luke's and its CEO have filed a defamation lawsuit against The Duluth News Tribune and several members of its staff.
Specifically, the suit alleges that a story published in July contained false/defamatory information, and that the publication regularly quoted sources with financial incentive to harm the hospital and misled its sources.
"This defamation lawsuit was brought because our patients, dedicated staff and community deserve to know the truth and not be misled and misinformed by these false reports," read a statement from St. Luke's.
Not surprisingly, The Duluth News Tribune is continuing to stand by its story.
"The stories portrayed what is unquestionably a matter of public safety and concern," said publisher Ken Browall. "We look forward to proceeding to court and the dismissal of this unwarranted complaint."
Stay tuned for updates on this story from our Texas medical malpractice blog ...
If you lost a loved one to what you believe was physician negligence or a surgical error, you should strongly consider contacting an experienced legal professional.
This post was for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal or medical advice. Names have been withheld to protect the identities of the parties.
The Duluth News Tribune "St. Luke's sues Duluth News Tribune over reporting on surgeon" Sept. 20, 2011
The Duluth News Tribune, "Texas Medical Board doesn't discipline former Duluth neurosurgeon," June 15, 2011