20th Feb 2013
While you are reading this, Johns Hopkins Hospital is preparing its defense of your potential malpractice claim against it and Dr. Levy. As you may know, Dr. Levy, a former employee of Johns Hopkins Hospital, may have been filming your genital area while you were visiting him for your OB-GYN appointment.
To the former patients and victims of Dr. Nikita Levy and Johns Hopkins Hospital – I am sorry! The allegations against Dr. Levy and his employer Johns Hopkins Hospital are truly grotesque. Words cannot begin to express the shock you must be feeling for having your most sacred trust and personal dignity so heinously violated. Outrage, anger and contempt for Dr. Levy and the Hopkins’ institution are obviously going to be rampant – as they should be!
What pictures are there of you out there? What position were you in when he took them? Who has them? Who has looked at them? Worst yet what else might he have done to your body, for whatever sadistic personal satisfaction that he may have gleaned, that you don’t know about? And how about the proverbial million dollar questions – What did Johns Hopkins Hospital know about him and his conduct before the story broke and what did they do about it? You deserve answers to all of these questions. So how are you going to find out the answers? Well, it appears, Dr. Levy took the coward’s way out and committed suicide to ashamed, scared or disgraced to face his victims. So he will never provide you and the other victims those answers. So where does that leave you, the patient, the innocent victim? Were you a victim of medical malpractice, sexual assault, hospital negligence? Do you have claims for malpractice or invasion of privacy against Johns Hopkins? Is Hopkins going to give you the answer to any of these questions?
Anybody remember the Dr. Mark Midei and St. Joseph Medical Center stent scandal that rocked the Baltimore community several years ago? Sure the hospital sent out letters, saying that patients “might” have had unnecessary heart procedures conducted on them, but when the medical malpractice lawsuits were filed, the Hospital clammed up. As one of the many lawyers who represented victims of that stent scandal we went after the answers only to run into one brick wall after another thrown up by the hospital and its corporate attorneys. Claims of privilege and specifically the medical peer-review privilege were used to deny patients access to what the hospital knew about Dr. Midei, when they knew about it and, more importantly, why they didn’t do anything about it.
The Maryland Medical Review Committee Privilege is a Statute that is contained in the Maryland Code, Health Occupations Article and it provides, in pertinent part, that:
“Proceeding’s, records, and files confidential and not
admissible or discoverable. – (1) Except as otherwise provided in
this section, the proceedings, records, and files of a medical review
committee are not discoverable and are not admissible in evidence
in any civil action.”
So even if the Johns Hopkins Hospital knew about Dr. Levy’s conduct, or had been alerted about his conduct in the past, or had a prior peer-review of his conduct, you the victim won’t be able to discover it. You the victim wouldn’t be able to use that information in a court room to support your claim against Johns Hopkins for medical negligence damages. The point I am trying to make is that, just like in the St. Joseph Medical Center cases, Johns Hopkins will invariably try to keep its knowledge of Dr. Levy’s conduct confidential if in fact John’s Hopkins Hospital was aware. Upset yet? Well you should be!
The Goal of the Medical Peer Review Statute was to allow a free exchange of information in a medical peer review setting to promote better medical practices. Forty Six (46) States have similar statutes on the books. The statutes were enacted because doctors were reluctant to participate in peer review evaluations for fear of exposure to liability and loss of referrals from other doctors. To combat this reluctance states passed these peer-review privileges. The goal, however, was to promote better medical practices not to protect an institution from liability if internal documents could prove that the institution had knowledge of bad conduct and allowed that conduct to continue. Yet, that is how the Statutes are being used when a hospital is embroiled in a scandal like that of Dr. Levy’s or Dr. Midei’s.
From an insider’s point of view I am always alarmed at how little patients get to know about their doctors and hospitals. Why is the practice of medicine so cloak and dagger? Why are the Maryland Board of Physicians’ inquires and hearings kept strictly confidential? Why do hospitals and insurance companies get to have access to the National Practitioners Data Bank, a data bank that keeps statistics on every hospital and every doctor that gets sued for malpractice and pays over $150,000.00, but patients don’t have access to that information? We live in an age of information yet the knowledge we have about our health care providers remains in the stone-age.
I truly want to believe that Johns Hopkins Hospital had no knowledge or even the slightest inkling that Dr. Levy may have been perpetrating these acts against his patients. Yet the cynic in me that has been created from years of litigation against hospitals and their corporate attorney keeps asking – how could they not have? And why didn’t they? What types of quality control were they practicing – or did they not have any quality control?
Hospitals are responsible for the conduct of those doctors and nurses they give the privilege of practicing medicine under their roofs. Hospitals are responsible to ensure that those health care providers have the proper credentials, qualifications and moral compasses. If they allow a sociopath to practice under their roof for years and provide him with an endless line of patient victims – they should be held accountable to those victims. If Johns Hopkins Hospital has documents that prove, suggest or imply that Dr. Levy was acting inappropriately I hope its moral compass points in the direction of acknowledging the same and accepting the consequences. However, that cynic in me doubts that will happen.
Personal injury lawyers and in particular medical malpractice lawyers are fighting to have a more transparent medical system. One that promotes patient awareness over corporate awareness and patient rights over corporate profits. To all the victims out there – we are all sorry and we will continue to fight for your rights against the corporate interests. Don’t be ashamed – you are the victims and you deserve some justice.