Doc Claims Hospital Deliberately Infected His Patients
Lawsuit says it wanted to 'kill' potential competition.
Published: August 16, 2013
An orthopedic surgeon is claiming a Vermont hospital tried to destroy his reputation by deliberately infecting several of his patients, according to a published report, and a former top official at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is prepared to testify that the infections did in fact appear to have been the result of "intentionally infected irrigation fluid" provided by hospital personnel.
Raymond A. Long, MD, is suing Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans, Vt., saying it wanted to "kill the competition" after he told hospital doctors in 2002 that he was thinking of adding an MRI machine to his office. He claims Northwestern was part of an illegal kickback scheme with imaging facilities at the time and was planning to add its own MRI machine.
His complaint asserts that in 2003, hospital staff deliberately contaminated several of his patients, "causing a series of life- and limb-threatening infections."
Northwestern initiated a peer review of Dr. Long in 2004, spurred by what it said were staff concerns about his disruption of hospital services. The review committee found he was confrontational and asked staff to deviate from protocol, while acknowledging that his concern about recent post-surgical infections was "understandable." It recommended that Dr. Long undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
A short time later, Dr. Long resigned from the hospital. "Faced with the foregoing inexcusable danger to his patients," he says in the complaint, he had "no rational choice other than to resign." Northwestern then filed an Adverse Action Report with the Department of Health and Human Services, claiming he'd done so "while under, or to avoid, investigation."
Dr. Long's legal team has hired William Jarvis, MD, formerly chief of the CDC's Epidemiology Branch and director of the Hospital Infections Program. Dr. Jarvis reviewed 4 of the cases in question in 2011 and wrote that their close timing was "very unusual," especially considering they all involved very low-risk procedures. It's unlikely, he said, that the infections were the result of equipment, technique or organisms living on the patients. It was more likely, he continued, "that the patients were intentionally infected through extrinsically and intentionally contaminated irrigation fluid provided by NMC personnel."
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