Physician sues Howard hospital, 3 peers Gynecologist cites racism in seeking $80 million

November 08, 1995|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

A former chief of Howard County General Hospital's medical staff is suing the hospital and three doctors for at least $80 million, alleging that "bad blood" and racism -- rather than questionable medical decisions -- led to the suspension last year of his privileges at the facility.

In a federal lawsuit filed Monday, Dr. Kline A. Price Jr. -- a black gynecologist who claims to be Columbia's first private doctor and is the brother of National Urban League President Hugh B. Price -- lists a host of alleged medical miscues performed at the Columbia hospital by white physicians that were not punished.

The alleged mistakes include surgery on the wrong knee, inadvertently perforated bladders and bowels, and the death of a woman who was sent home too early after delivering a baby.

Hospital officials held a press briefing yesterday afternoon to deny the allegations, but refused to discuss them in detail or answer questions. They characterized the suit as part of a trend toward litigation by physicians who believe they have been treated unfairly in various kinds of peer-review proceedings.

The three Howard County obstetrician-gynecologists also named in the lawsuit -- Drs. Steven F. Noskow, Mary P. Hogan and Allan W. Lohaus -- either refused to comment or did not return phone calls yesterday. All three held hospital positions that involved them in investigating Dr. Price before his suspension.

"We feel this suit is without justification," said Victor A. Broccoli no, president of the hospital. "We will vigorously defend our actions and the actions of the physicians" who were part of the peer review process that led to Dr. Price's suspension.

"We are saddened and quite surprised that Dr. Price has introduced racial issues," Mr. Broccolino said.

Dr. Price's lawsuit says that he lost his medical privileges at the Howard hospital in September 1994 after an internal hospital dispute over whether he should have performed hysteroscopies on certain patients. The procedure allows a gynecologist to examine a woman's uterus using a fiber-optic micro-camera.

He alleges that white physicians who made serious medical errors never have been punished for their actions and that he was targeted unfairly for medical decisions that never harmed his patients.

The three physicians named in the suit and Dr. Price do not have any pending allegations or records of public disciplinary actions, according to the State Board of Physician Quality Assurance.

Since September 1994, Dr. Price, who is in his late 50s, has been forced to use hospitals in Montgomery County to conduct surgeries, said his lawyer, Thomas C. Beach III.

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