Doctor sues Carroll Co. hospital

Longtime surgeon says staff retaliated when he criticized procedures

January 22, 2001|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

A Carroll County General Hospital surgeon has filed a $5.25 million lawsuit against the hospital, claiming the staff destroyed his medical practice when he complained about the care patients were receiving.

In a lawsuit filed in Carroll Circuit Court, Dr. Wenifredo N. Iglesia of Taneytown says that when he criticized the quality of care at the county's only hospital, medical staff, "motivated by hatred" and with "the deliberate intent to injure" him, circulated rumors that he was mentally unstable, causing him to lose patients and income.

Iglesia, a Carroll County General surgeon for more than two decades, is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

"Despite my service to the hospital, despite my loyalty ... my name has been destroyed," said Iglesia, who filed the suit this month. He resigned in September after the hospital's board of directors told him his admitting privileges would be revoked.

David Horn, Carroll General's vice president for marketing and a hospital spokesman, said Iglesia's lawsuit is without merit.

"We just don't think that's the way things actually occurred," he said. "We at Carroll County General strive to give our patients the highest quality of care and treat our staff professionally, with fairness, respect and dignity."

Horn said he could not speak specifically about the case.

Iglesia, who has had no action taken against him by the state licensing board, has admitting privileges at Northwest Hospital Center in Randallstown.

Iglesia, 70, estimated he has performed thousands of biopsies, appendectomies and other surgeries at the hospital since he gained admitting privileges in 1976.

According to the lawsuit, Iglesia's problems began after he was invited to join Carroll General's Surgical Quality Assurance Board in 1996. The board, consisting of surgeons with admitting privileges at the hospital, meets monthly to review cases of special interest and discusses them to determine whether patients received appropriate medical care.

When Iglesia presented two cases he had been assigned to review, court records show, members of the board disliked his criticism of the way the cases were handled. Iglesia said he began to notice what he considered a double standard in reviewing cases.

"I've been penalized for some minor mistakes, yet tremendously profound mistakes by the favored doctors of the hospital were swept under the rug, put in the closet," Iglesia said in an interview. "Favored doctors don't have quality assurance, death and mortality discussed. Unfavored doctors, they have it."

The relationship between Iglesia and the doctors on the board continued to deteriorate. Iglesia said he felt so intimidated by the threats of the medical staff that he hired an attorney in 1997.

A hearing on the case has not been scheduled.

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