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Home >  News >  April, 2012

Hospital Cleared in Credentialing Dispute

Injured patient says inexperienced doc should never have been allowed to perform procedure that went horribly wrong.

Published: April 19, 2012

After a surgeon's slip-up during a complex case left a woman comatose, her husband sued the Iowa hospital where the procedure was performed for negligent physician credentialing. But the state's supreme court ultimately absolved the hospital of any wrongdoing.

In April 2007, Rhonda Hall went to Jennie Edmundson Memorial Hospital in Council Bluffs for a Whipple procedure to determine whether a mass on her pancreas was malignant. Eric Bendorf, MD, who court records show had performed only 4 such surgeries in the previous 10 years and none in the previous 3 years, severed Ms. Hall's superior mesenteric vein during the notoriously difficult procedure.

While he initially controlled the bleeding, it persisted enough for the case to be discontinued. Ms. Hall was transferred to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, where another surgeon successfully completed the procedure. Ms. Hall emerged from her comatose state after 2 months, but had to undergo additional surgeries and continues to battle health issues, according to court documents.

Ms. Hall and her husband settled a lawsuit filed against Dr. Bendorf, but their legal action against the hospital went to trial. They alleged that the hospital shouldn't have granted Dr. Bendorf privileges for the Whipple procedure due to his lack of sufficient experience in performing it. The Halls' attorneys didn't respond to requests seeking comment.

The Iowa Supreme Court upheld a district court's original ruling that JEMH's granting privileges to Dr. Bendorf was within the acceptable standard of care. The ruling noted that JEMH researched Dr. Bendorf's credentials and surgical record extensively, which included reviews by surgeons and physicians who would know if Dr. Bendorf was qualified to perform a Whipple procedure, despite his limited experience.

Dr. Bendorf originally received temporary general surgical privileges from JEMH in 1997 and had his credentialing approved about every 2 years after, including in 2007, shortly before he performed Ms. Hall's surgery.

Attorneys for JEMH and NMHS didn't respond to requests for comment.

Daniel Cook

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