Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Thursday, July 19, 2012


                 Former doctor to be brought
                 from state prison for his trial

Legal papers paint a picture of what is now the area's 
largest heathcare provider that's very different
 from the one it has paid a compliant media to present

By David Baker
Posted Thursday July 19, 2012

With no money, no malpractice insurance and apparently no legal representation, former gynecologist Akiva Abraham is to be transported from prison next month to testify in a civil trial in which he is accused of performing an unauthorized and unnecessary surgery that left a woman disfigured, and Samaritan Hospital in Troy is defending allegations that it repeatedly granted Abraham privileges when it knew or should have known that he was unfit to practice.

Last month, state Supreme Court Justice Stephen Ferradino issued a judicial subpoena that requires Aida Perez, the warden at the Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill, to produce prisoner Abraham at the courthouse in Ballston Spa at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 1 to testify in Susan Stalker vs. Akiva Abraham & Samaritan Hospital.

Abraham is serving a 4 1/2-to 12-year prison sentence following his conviction of insurance fraud for telling an insurance company that he didn't know the cause of a fire that destroyed a nightclub building he owned. An earlier trial, in which he was accused of actually starting the fire, ended with a hung jury and and a mistrial, even after investigators found empty accelertent containers at his home.

Two other people were convicted of arson and are also serving prison sentences.

In 2005 the state revoked Abraham's medical license, citing 34 counts of misconduct and gross misconduct.  In November 2011, Abraham filed for bankruptcy protection,

So it's not clear what kind of defence Abraham will be able to present at the trial, or if, with nothing to lose, he will even try to defend his actions. That - short of reaching a last-minute settlement with Stalker - is the only way Samaritan Hospital management's can avoid an exhaustive public examination of how it checked Abraham's background when it first granted him privileges and repeatedly reappointed him before he performed the disputed surgery on Susan Stalker in 2004.

This is because Ferradino has ruled that if negligence is not proved against Abraham, there is no case for the hospital to answer.

But even if the jury finds that Abraham wasn't negligent when what was supposed to be a simple biopsy turned into a procedure Stalker had not agreed to and which Abraham did not have the hospital's authorization to perform, the legal records on file - which are now accessible on the county's web page from anywhere  - paint a revealing picture of how Samaritan Hospital may have been approving requests for admitting privileges.

In his ruling allowing the claim of negligent credentialing to be presented to a jury Ferradino cited the 'red flags' that Stalker's lawyers have said should have alerted the hospital that Abraham might not be fit to practice. These included three malpractice lawsuits that named both Abraham and Samaritan Hospital, and a subpoena served on the hospital by the state that demanded records of two patients, both of whom had been treated by Abraham.

Then there was the fact that Abraham had been fired from two other jobs - in one case for making false entries in medical records.  Abraham may or may not have disclosed the circumstances under which he left these jobs - Samaritan has cited state laws that shield information and documents about the credentialing process from disclosure - but the hospital is supposed to verify statements made by doctors applying for privileges.  While withholding information that would confirm it, Samaritan has asserted that it carried out all the required checks each time Abraham was granted privileges.

The trial is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. on July 30 at the Municipal Center on McMaster Street in Ballston Spa. Lawyers in the case have said they expect it to last five to seven days.