Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Monday, August 26, 2013

A duty abandoned

Selective reporting: 
the evidence is overwhelming

Details of just one lawsuit show how even the most 
significant news is suppressed to increase media income

By David Baker
Posted Monday August 26, 2013
692 words

It’s been said that news is information that someone doesn’t want published.

If so, there has been a lot of news about medical providers in New York’s capital region.

And the area’s media organizations have been happy to keep it out of sight – while receiving a steady stream of advertising revenue from those providers.

That news is about dozens of lawsuits alleging malpractice and negligence over the past 14 years.

Consider just one such lawsuit:  Susan Stalker vs. Samaritan Hospital in Troy, NY and Akiva Abraham, details of which you won’t find in any newspaper archive.

Abraham was a gynecologist with a private practice – until he lost his medical license.  He is now in prison.  In 2004, he was scheduled to perform a simple needle biopsy at Samaritan Hospital to determine if a mass in Stalker’s breast was cancerous.

Instead, while Stalker was sedated, and without her knowledge or permission, he removed a large amount of tissue.

A subsequent test showed that there was no cancer.  The unnecessary procedure he had inflicted on his patient – which he was not authorized by the hospital to perform – left her badly disfigured.

Stalker sued.  The lawsuit included the unusual claim of ‘negligent credentialing,’ asserting that each time Samaritan Hospital over a four-year period had granted Abraham privileges it knew or should have known that he was medically and morally unfit to practice.

The evidence of that, Stalker’s suit said, was that Abraham had:

*  been reprimanded and placed on probation for six months during his residency at Albany Medical Center Hospital for writing an admission and medical history note indicating that he had examined a patient when he had not seen the patient;

* been fired from a private medical practice;

* been fired from another hospital in the area for allegedly making a false entry in a medical chart;

* been named in three separate medical malpractice lawsuits – in each of which Samaritan Hospital was a co-defendant;

* allowed his malpractice insurance coverage to lapse for several months while practicing at Samaritan Hospital, despite a requirement that the hospital be given 30 days’ advance notice of any lapse of coverage and;

* was under investigation by the state Office of Professional Medical Conduct, during which the office served a subpoena on Samaritan Hospital for copies of the medical records of two patients, both of whom had been treated by Abraham.

The lawsuit lasted six years, during which a ruling by the judge was appealed to and dismissed by a higher court.  It ended on the first day of trial with a confidential settlement.

But in all that time, the area’s newspapers never said a word about it.

Even as over those six years one of those papers, the Hearst-owned Times Union, printed at least a dozen stories about Abraham’s many other legal problems: The revocation in 2005 of his medical license; his trial – which ended with a hung jury – on arson charges; his conviction in 2010 of insurance fraud related to the fire; his 2011 bankruptcy filing; and the appeals court decision that affirmed his fraud conviction and sent him to prison.

These stories were published between 2005 and November 2011.  But never once mentioned was the unusual negligent credentialing claim, or the three other malpractice lawsuits naming him and Samaritan Hospital – even after one of them ended with a $1.6 million settlement for the death of a woman during childbirth.

The Stalker case is just one of dozens of lawsuits filed against the newspapers’ advertisers that the public doesn’t know about because the newspapers have never mentioned them. 

What they do run is a constant stream of ads for those providers, bringing the media outlets a steady flow of revenue while they ignore claims of negligence that over the past 14 years are alleged to have caused dozens of avoidable deaths and serious injuries.

Details of many of these lawsuits are available at  Many more will be added to the site in the coming weeks – each one adding to the already overwhelming evidence that the area’s media organizations have sold out, willingly abandoning their core function of informing the public on matters of public interest in favor of increasing their bottom lines.

Read the first story on the Stalker vs Abraham/Samaritan Hospital lawsuit HERE

Twitter: @answersforlisa