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Judge orders former doctor to pay $44 million in suits

On Oct. 31, a Putnam Circuit Court Judge signed orders finding a former medical doctor civilly liable for $44 million in suits by 13 individuals. Amounts varied in each case. Many of the judgments were default judgments. The former physician was found to have performed negligent surgeries, surgeries for which he wasn't qualified, improper surgeries, unnecessary surgeries and surgeries without obtaining consent, as well as improperly using medical equipment.

The judgments arose out of a number of wrongful death and medical malpractice claims as a result of the doctor's negligence. The doctor had formerly practiced medicine at the former Putnam General Hospital, which is now named CAMC Teays Valley Hospital. At the time the doctor worked there, the hospital was owned by Hospital Corporation of America. Altogether, Hospital Corporation of America has paid more than $100 million to settle all of the lawsuits against the physician.

The doctor apparently moved to Alabama after the lawsuits were filed and changed his name, claiming he did so due to identity theft. He was able to obtain his medical license there and practiced medicine for several years. The doctor filed bankruptcy in 2007, which placed the lawsuits against him on hold. His medical license in Alabama was revoked in 2008. The former doctor was forced to either surrender his license or it was revoked in West Virginia and eight other states between 2004 and 2006.

Medical malpractice can result in serious personal injuries or even death when medical staff are negligent in provision of care. When a medical professional is sued for medical malpractice or wrongful death, the hospital at which he or she is employed may also be liable and be required to pay damages, as in this case. When a hospital knowingly continues to employ a physician who is unqualified, they may have liability.

Source: The West Virginia Record, "Judge signs orders making King liable for $44M", Chris Dickerson, November 04, 2014

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