CMC appoints Pittsburgh law firm to investigate how it handled controversial surgeon

Oct. 13 – A Pittsburgh law firm will take several months to investigate Catholic Medical Center’s handling of a heart surgeon’s performance and complaints from fellow doctors and staff, the hospital announced Thursday.

Meanwhile, a legislative panel is expected to vote on Monday on proposed changes to state law to make it more likely that a doctor’s disciplinary record will be made public.

Law firm Horty, Springer & Mattern will produce a report for the Manchester Hospital Board which will include its findings and recommendations for improvement.

It will examine general hospital policies as well as specific issues related to the now-retired Dr. Yvon Baribeau, who ultimately made at least 20 malpractice payments in New Hampshire cases. (CMC spokeswoman Lauren Collins-Cline said “Dr. B was presented with 17 threatened malpractice claims at one time by a law firm after his retirement” in 2019.)

The law firm “has the discretion to go where it sees fit,” said Pamela Diamantis, vice chair of CMC’s board of directors, who will lead a special committee of the board to help the external review.

“They will not review the details of a specific medical procedure” that Baribeau performed, she said.

Asked about the review of Baribeau-specific issues at the CMC, she said in an email: “We anticipate that Horty Springer will review the current and past policies, procedures, medical credentials and peer review of the CMC: As part of this, Horty Springer has the latitude to review how complaints or the review process for certain cases have been handled.

In September, the Boston Globe reported on the abnormally high number of malpractice charges against Baribeau, who was a household name at Manchester Hospital until his retirement.

Walker then sent a memo to employees criticizing the Globe’s reporting as one-sided. The Globe said it stood by its stories.

The allegations against Baribeau were part of a whistleblower lawsuit filed in 2018 by another former CMC cardiologist.

Last February, the union leader reported on the settlement of this whistleblower lawsuit. The lawsuit included details of serious complications following Baribeau’s surgeries, as well as allegations of “bribes” paid to the hospital for referring patients to a particular doctor.

Last month, the Union leader also documented how other states give more information to the public about New Hampshire doctors than New Hampshire’s own board of medicine.

CMC would not guarantee that the law firm’s report would be made public.

“I can’t say exactly what format will be shared publicly,” Diamantis said. “We plan to have a dialogue about the results with the state, CMC employees and the community.”

CMC’s announcement Thursday “is a proactive review to ensure CMC is aligned with best practices to support the work of the hospital and deliver the best possible outcomes for our patients and the community CMC serves,” Diamantis said.

The hospital special committee has four members, including newly appointed hospital administrators Matt Albuquerque and Grace Tung. Tom Donovan, retired director of charitable trusts for the New Hampshire attorney general’s office, will serve on the committee as an independent member. No member of the hospital administration or medical staff sits on the committee.

Interest in the State House

Meanwhile, Rep. Jeffrey Salloway, who chairs a legislative panel tasked with determining whether the New Hampshire Board of Medicine should share more information about doctors publicly, expects members to propose recommended changes to the law. of State.

“My own feeling is that disciplinary actions taken by hospitals against physicians should be reported to the Medical Board, and the Medical Board should investigate and determine which of these disciplinary actions should be made public,” Salloway said. in an interview Thursday. .

He discussed the issue with doctors and lawyers as well as people connected to other state boards.

“A lot of business in the Legislative Assembly is done in the halls, not in committee,” Salloway said. “Committee members chatting in the hallways.”

The meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday in the legislative office building in Concord.

Rep. Mark Pearson, another member of the subcommittee, said the suggested changes to the law are set to be considered Oct. 28 by the Joint Health and Human Services Legislative Oversight Committee, which he chairs.

A request to the Legislative Services Office to have a bill drafted could be made later this year.

Pearson said he was speaking this week with various people involved in the physician disciplinary process, including the chief executive of CMC.

Pearson is trying to balance how to offer more information to the public while protecting doctors and hospitals, including “where the doctor is a good ‘cowboy,’ meaning someone who is willing to take on impossible cases and did a solid job, but the patient died” and would have died anyway.

“How do we make the rules? I tell them all: suggest a language,” Pearson said. “My feeling is that everyone wants to do it, but we are trying to talk.”

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Denise W. Whigham