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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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"Wrong Lung" Surgeon Back In Practice: We The People Must Reclaim our Civil Justice System

5 comments

Dr. Santusht Perera is back in practice; he is operating again, this time at Hoboken University Medical Center in Hudson County, New Jersey. On August 29, 2000, Dr. Perera was practicing at Meadowlands Hospital in Secaucus when he performed surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from the right lung of Richard Flagg. Problem – the tumor was on Mr. Flagg’s left lung. By itself, this would have been an unfortunate error. But, when Dr. Perera realized his error, he made no move to own up to his mistake. Rather, he elected to cover up his error and told Mr. Flagg that the right lung (the healthy one) contained a life-threatening tumor. Additionally, Dr. Perera altered Mr. Flagg’s medical records to show he intended to operate on the right lung. By removing a large portion of the right lung it became impossible to remove the cancerous left lung. Mr. Flagg was forced to live the rest of his life with a diseased lung and on oxygen 24-hours a day. It wasn’t until several months later when Mr. Flagg picked up his hospital records, and noticed that a pathology report showed no evidence of a tumor on his right lung. Mr. Flagg died on September 8, 2003 at the age of 63, after three years of suffering. His case did not resolve until June 2004.

So, why is Dr. Perera still around and practicing medicine? In June 2008, Dr. Perera was fined $81,000, had his medical license was suspended from June to December 2008, and was placed on probation; he was not pervented from future practice. Thus, in July 2009, six-months after his “active” suspension, Dr. Perera was granted surgical privileges at Hoboken University Medical Center. Meadowlands Hospital and the Jersey City Medical Center had both denied him privileges.

The Flagg case was blatant medical malpractice made worse by the doctor’s attempt to cover-up his negligence. The big question today, almost ten years later? Why is Hoboken allowing this doctor to practice in their hospital? Why is he still performing surgery? The Medical Center CEO, Spiros Hatiras, said that once his license was re-instated, the hospital “had little choice” but to re-instate him. Dr. Perera must be monitored during surgeries for six months to make sure he is complying with all standards and procedures. But, what happens when the six month monitoring period is up? He is on his own again? And, how did his license get reinstated in the first place?

Despite his deteriorating health and physical limitations, Mr. Flagg fought to the end amd campaigned against tort reform in medical malpractice cases. He wanted to help assure that patients who were hurt by their healthcare providers could hold those providers accountable and receive fair compensation for their pain, suffering and unfortunate circumstances. In February 2003, Mr. Flagg presented a statement to the Public Citizen and the Center for Justice and Democracy. Here is just a portion of his poignant words:

Now, I’m somewhat of an amateur historian, and I do have a degree in history, as well as one in biology and a minor in chemistry, and it seems to me that back in 1789 when the Constitution of the United States was written our forefathers had in mind one thing. Justice in this country was to be decided by a jury of our peers.

This is not true today. It is in criminal cases. It is in murders. It is in robberies. It isn’t in medical malpractice. If Mr. Bush has his way and the states that already have these caps on certain parts of tort reform, this is what we can look forward to getting worse and worse.

I made a quote on a forum on a Web site last week in New Jersey. Someone asked me how do you feel about what’s happening with tort reform. I answered it very simply. Once you start taking a person’s individual rights and freedoms of our American citizens away, where does it stop? It doesn’t, and I referenced Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, and so forth down the line.

I received 125 answers, all of them saying thank you; we didn’t know.

There is our problem today. It’s mostly misinformation or lack of information.

I would like to see people in this room, each one become ambassadors to this. Talk as hard and as long as you can to stop what’s happened. That’s what we need more than anything else.



Lawsuit Financial once again asks all readers to join our pro-justice lawsuit funding company in our quest to adhere to our constitutional rights and stop what has become known as "tort reform". Let’s honor the legacy of Mr. Flagg and finish the work that he started following his own personal tragedy with a medical mistake. It is time to stop sacrificing individual rights on the alter of corporate success. It is time for all of us, we the people, to reclaim our rights as important citizens of America.

5 Comments

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  1. Jim O'Hare AIC AIS VP med mal claims says:
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    This Doc should be hung by his thumbs. I get that people make mistakes, the coverup is a fraud, and if insured as an individual, would void coverage. You made no mention of indemnity for Mr.Flagg ??

    ” Justice in this country was to be decided by a jury of our peers.”- quoted from Mr.Flagg. Not accurate – meant for the defendant. Jurors should be peers of the defendant. People think that this is only important when it is about them.It isnt. The person being tried requires a peer group.

    Any way for anyone to argue that Docs get a jury of peers? They dont and it isnt important because that right isnt about them. Fairness and advocacy collide when rights of some are superior to rights for all involved. Check any dictionary of your choice re peers before responding- try Blacks.

    A jury of surgeons would have hung this physician. I am very interested about his rehire and the shortage of surgeons in Jersey?
    regards jim

  2. Mark Bello says:
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    Jim: You are becoming my biggest fan! Interesting take on “peers”. If there was some way to get an honest call from doctors in their critcism of other doctors, I would agree with you. In theory, doctors deserve the same “peer” jury as victims do. When I practiced law, however, it was extremely difficult, near impossible, to get one physician to be critical of another “on the record”, even when malpractice was “obvious”. My office uniformly had to go out of state for a testimonial expert on liability. I invite current, practicing IB members to comment on the availability of experts in today’s litigation climate; my sense is that it is even worse. If attorneys can’t get a single local doc to agree that obvious malpractice is, indeed, malpractice, how can any lawyer trust their integrity on a jury? Regards, Mark

  3. Jim O'Hare AIC AIS VP med mal claims says:
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    Having a hard time with docs not playing ball when there is obvious malpractice? – so therefore how could you trust them when they are on a jury?

    Mr. Flagg was obvious for liability ,causation and damages related to the negligence. Maybe what may be obvious to you, maybe not be so much to an expert.

    You must believe there is a ‘white wall’ conspiracy where docs protect each other. There isnt. For $600-1000 per hour, there are plenty of Docs out there that will find obvious med mal for you, and even a few that will follow a script provided to them.

    RE “peers” It is not my take on Peers, it is THE take on peers, and it is exclusively for the defendant, not the plaintiff. The defendant is the accused and assumed innocent til proved guilty/negligent by his or her jury. Anybody?

    Are your local experts showing you evidence of the “white wall” to protect their own, or opine that maybe the obvious is really equivocal?

    Enjoy the discourse.
    regards
    Jim
    PEER = A jury of ” like station and position in the community.” Blacks law dictionary. To me, at a minimum, a college degree should be required to be considered a peer.

  4. Zachary says:
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    I think that ordinary people can often make extraordinary jurors. Most people try to do the right thing. I am not a doctor, but if there wasn’t enough evidence offered to prove that the doctor did something wrong, I would decide in the doctor’s favor. But, if the victim was seriously hurt or killed by a bad doctor or botched procedure, I would also not hesitate to “hang the doc by his thumbs” as Jim suggests.

  5. Jim says:
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    I am just wondering why the NJ State Board of Medical Examiners meted out such a lienient penalty? How could his license not have been permanently revoked? The bigger culprit in all this is the Board Of Examiners who had the power to revoke permanently his license but for some reason gives him a slap on the wrist instead, an 80K fine a two year suspension? How about jail time? I wonder if there is some corrupted influence within this Board of Examiners as I read somewhere that the wrong lung doc was a contributer to various people and institutions of influence.