Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Monday, October 28, 2013


Scrutiny lacking on all sides

Posted Monday Oct. 28, 2013
538 words

The facts revealed in former gynecologist Akiva Abraham’s lawsuit against Seton Health undercut even further the claim made by Samaritan Hospital during the Susan Stalker lawsuit that it didn't have any reason to believe Abraham was unfit to practice.

In its defense of Stalker’s claim that Samaritan was negligent when it granted and repeatedly renewed Abraham’s privileges, the hospital said it had carried out all the checks required by state regulations and its own bylaws.

Abraham’s privileges were granted and repeatedly renewed despite the fact that he had been fired by Seton Health – and that in 2001 Seton served a subpoena on Samaritan, demanding that it produce a copy of its credentialing file on Abraham.

The subpoena produced a response from Robert Swidler, Samaritan’s general counsel, objecting to the demand.

“The information collected and maintained by the hospital in the credentialing process – the ‘credentials file’ – is highly confidential,” Swidler wrote in an affidavit asking the court to quash Seton’s subpoena.  He went on to cite a state law that shields information gathered in the credentialing process from disclosure – the same defense Samaritan would later use when Stalker demanded the Abraham file during her lawsuit.

So Samaritan’s lawyer was aware in 2001 that Abraham – who was practicing at Samaritan – was involved in a legal action against another hospital, and that his competency appeared to be an issue. 

Samaritan Hospital also claimed during the Stalker lawsuit that it did not know and could not have known that Abraham was under investigation by the state, even though the state had served it with a subpoena for records of two of Abraham’s patients.

And if that wasn't enough, the existence of the probe was publicly disclosed in a document in Abraham’s lawsuit against Seton Health.  In an affidavit filed in 2003, an attorney for Seton said: “Upon information and belief, the Plaintiff is currently being investigated by (the office of Professional Medical Conduct) for this falsification of the medical record.”

Shouldn't an ongoing monitoring of documents in that case have been a part of a rigorous scrutiny of Abraham’s history and the information he provided on each of his applications for privileges?

Apparently not.  Instead, Samaritan either didn't look for or ignored this and many other indications that Abraham was unfit, and allowed him to practice for three more years. He eventually was stopped, but only after, without a patient’s knowledge or consent, he had performed a medically unnecessary procedure he was not authorized by the hospital to perform that left the patient permanently disfigured.

And even then, Samaritan fought the ensuing lawsuit for six years before settling on the first day of trial, maintaining right to the end that it had carried out all the required investigations of Abraham and was not responsible for the damage he had done.

Abraham’s lawsuit, like Stalker’s, was never mentioned by the area’s newspapers, which for the past 14 years have ignored dozens of claims against hospitals that during that time have spent an enormous amount of money advertising in the media.

If the papers had covered Abraham’s claim against Seton, Stalker would probably not have been injured.  Instead, the newspapers have participated in an ongoing conspiracy of silence that has allowed a devastating toll of emotional and financial damage – and likely has cost several patients their lives.