Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Monday, April 14, 2014

Thomas Conway, 1949-2014

Thomas A. Conway, the lawyer who successfully represented plaintiffs in two cases against former gynecologist Akiva Abraham and Samaritan Hospital has died.  He was 64.

Read the obituary appearing today in the Times Union HERE


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Another Abraham lawsuit

A mother’s avoidable death
and an unreported lawsui

By David Baker
Posted April 2, 2014
768 words

A lawsuit over the death of a woman who died following childbirth that named former gynecologist and now state prisoner Akiva Abraham was settled for $1.6 million on the first day of trial in April 2004.

This lawsuit, like virtually every claim against Capital District medical providers filed over the past 14 years, was never mentioned by the area’s newspapers, newspapers that have received and continue to receive a steady stream of advertising revenue from the hospitals.

The case involved a family from Rensselaer County.  In addition to Abraham, the suit named as defendants Samaritan Hospital and Seton Health/St. Mary’s Hospital, both in Troy.

At the time of the settlement both Samaritan Hospital and Abraham asked the court to seal documents setting out the amount and details of the payout.  Despite that, full details of the settlement terms are on file in the office of the county clerk.  However, to reduce the likelihood of the names of several people – one of them still a minor – who were allocated parts of the settlement becoming available on the Internet, this page is withholding those details and the name of the family

Court papers say that although St. Mary’s Hospital was made a defendant, it was only because Abraham was employed there at the time the patient died in September 1999. (Abraham was later fired by St. Mary’s for making a false entry in a medical record;  a $1.5 million lawsuit he brought against the hospital claiming breach of contract was dismissed.  In 2006 his medical license was revoked and in 2012 he started a 4- to 12-year sentence in state prison for insurance fraud stemming from an arson.)

 It was Abraham who, according to legal papers, failed to recognize that the patient, who had been admitted to Samaritan Hospital for a Cesarean section, was at high risk of suffering a pulmonary embolism – a blood clot that reaches the lungs.

“Defendant, Akiva Abraham, was negligent and deviated from accepted standards of medical care,” the family’s attorney wrote in a document called a bill of particulars.  He was negligent in  “…failing to properly assess (the patient’s) risk of pulmonary embolism; failing after August 1999 and before the September 26 1999 surgery to properly address (the patient’s) continuing complaints of leg and groin pain; … failing to perform additional tests, in particular a Doppler study to determine whether or not (patient) was suffering from venous thrombosis; failing to properly address (the patient’s) complaints of chest pain and shortness of breath…(and) failing to administer heparin (a blood thinner) in a timely fashion.”

The document also says nurses at Samaritan Hospital were negligent by “…failing to record all of (patient’s) complaints of chest pain and shortness of breath; failing to immediately communicate to Akiva Abraham, M.D. (patient’s) complaints of chest pains and shortness of breath on September 27 and September 28, 1999; failing to communicate to any physician (patient’s) complaints of chest pain and shortness of breath … in a sufficiently prompt and urgent manner.”

The litigation lasted almost four years, settling on the first day of trial on April 19, 2004.  Of the $1.6 million, $567,725 went to the attorneys representing the husband, Conway & Kirby of Latham.  Of this amount, $59,292 was for expenses; the rest – $508,433 – was the firm’s percentage of the net recovery, which by agreement of the husband and the approval of the court came to 33.3 percent.  This is higher than would have been allocated under a sliding scale that starts at 30 percent of the first $250,000 recovered and drops in five steps to 10 percent of any amount over $1,250,000.

 The balance – $1,355,514 – was paid out in varying amounts to the husband and the couple’s four children, with some of the money allocated to the then-minor children going to purchase annuities for their benefit.

Despite the nature of the claim – the avoidable death of a young woman – and the size of the settlement, this case, like dozens of others against Capital Region providers, was never mentioned by the media.

Abraham’s medical license was revoked in 2006.  Prior to that, in 2004, also at Samaritan Hospital and after he had been fired by St. Mary’s Hospital, Abraham removed a large amount of tissue from a woman’s breast during what was supposed to be a simple biopsy.  The unauthorized and unnecessary procedure, performed without the patient’s knowledge’s or permission, led to six years of litigation that was also never mentioned by the media.

The attorneys in that case also were Conway & Kirby.  The case settled on the first day of trial in August 2012 for an undisclosed sum.

The Akiva Abraham lawsuits the newspapers ignored.  Read the exclusive stories HERE

Hospital, doctors cited

Brain injury alleged in new lawsuit

By David Baker
Posted Wednesday, April 2, 2014
209 words

A hospital governing body, two of its subsidiaries, four physicians and two medical practices are defendants in a lawsuit that alleges a patient received a serious brain injury.

Named as defendants are St. Peter’s Health Partners; its subsidiaries, Northeast Health, Inc. and Seton Health Systems; Capital District Surgical Associates; and the Anesthesia Group of Albany; and physicians Yusaf Silk, Robert Ezeifedi, Andrew Kavanaugh-Black and Krzysztof Glab.

 The suit was filed in June 2013 on behalf of Awilda Santana of Albany. It relates to treatment she received at Samaritan Hospital in Troy on January 16, 2013.

“The individual and corporate defendants were negligent, careless and reckless in their care and treatment of the plaintiff, thereby causing her to sustain serious physical injuries including a traumatic brain injury,” an initial filing in the case says.

It is not clear if the alleged injury was from the surgery itself or the anesthesia. Claims for damages will usually name as defendants every individual and corporate entity that had any involvement in the case. Subsequent filings will give specific details.

The lawsuit was filed by attorneys Basch & Keegan of Kingston. Representing the defendants are O’Connor, O’Conner, Bresee & First; Thorn, Gershon, Tymann & Bonnani; and Tarhis, Catania Liberth of Newburgh.

Monday, March 31, 2014

An ulcer ignored

Lawsuit: Untreated bedsore 
caused man permanent injury

By David Baker
Posted Monday March 31, 2014
428 words

St. Peter’s Hospital, Sunnyview Rehabilitation Center and two doctors are named as defendants in a lawsuit in which it is alleged that a 52-year-old man developed a life-threatening condition and was left with a permanent injury after a bedsore was not treated.

According to legal papers, after John Carp underwent bypass surgery at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany in May 2012 he developed an ulcer.  He was discharged but a week later was readmitted with a fever and was found to have a stage 4 decubitus ulcer and severe sepsis – a potentially life-threatening condition.  Surgery to remove a softball size area of dead tissue was performed, during which Carp lost a large amount of blood.

He was then  transferred to Sunnyview Rehabilitation Center in Niskayuna and placed on a wound pump for a month.  He was discharged and remained on it at home for another two months.

Carp’s attending physician at St. Peter’s Hospital, Niloo Edwards, allegedly failed to recognize that Carp was at high risk of developing an ulcer or that an ulcer had appeared before Carp was discharged.

Another doctor, Eugene Goykhman, was Carp’s attending physician at Sunnyview Rehabilitation center.

“…(D)espite having knowledge and/or being on notice of the fact that Plaintiff was admitted to Sunnyview with a secral ulcer, Dr. Goykhman was negligent and/or deviated from accepted standards of medical care when he failed to adequately treat Plaintiff’s ulcer to prevent it  from progressing,” a document in the lawsuit says.  As a result of this, Carp “… has sustained serious and permanent injuries including severe pain and suffering.”

The claim against Sunnyview includes a demand for punitive damages for its alleged failure to comply with a section of New York public health law regarding the prevention and treatment of bedsores.

The lawsuit was filed in June 2013.
In 2007, Sunnyview became a part of Northeast Health Inc., which operated Samaritan Hospital in Troy and Memorial Hospital in Albany.  In 2013 Northeast Health joined St. Peter’s Hospital and Seton Health/ St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy under a single governing board named St. Peter’s Health Partners.  The new entity also gained control of a network of nursing homes, rehab centers and clinics across the Capital Region.

Carp’s attorneys are the law firm D’Orazio, Peterson LLP of Saratoga Springs. (Peterson is a Scott M. Peterson, who appears to be the same attorney who previously worked at the Albany law firm Napieski, VanDenbugh & Napieski, a firm that defends medical providers in malpractice cases.  Peterson is no longer listed on that firm’s web page.)

The defendants are represented by Burke, Scolamiero, Mortati & Hurd of Albany; Maguire, Cardona of Menands; and Thorn Gerson & Bonanni of Albany.

Coming next: Former gynecologist and now prison inmate Akiva Abraham, Samaritan Hospital - and the $1.6 million confidential settlement for the death of a woman during childbirth.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

No contest

Public-interest information
loses out to advertisers’ cash

By David Baker
Posted Wednesday Feb. 19, 2014
633 words

It was back in 2008 that details of malpractice lawsuits filed against Capital District medical facilities first appeared on this site. Since then dozens of such claims have been posted here. The allegations vary but all of them have one thing in common;  None of them have been reported by the area’s newspapers.

The range of claims goes from preventable falls, to deaths that would not have occurred but for someone’s negligence. Obviously, a daily newspaper is not going to report every claim that results in a lawsuit.  But details of a settled lawsuit in which it was alleged that a object was left in a patient – which is a so-called “never event” – certainly is information that a newspaper should disseminate.

So are details of lawsuits that indicate a pattern of negligence – such as when two patients die in almost identical circumstances. With it, people can make a informed decision on where to go for care.

But with an assurance from the newspapers of silence on even the most egregious alleged malpractice there is no accountability and little incentive to change dangerous conditions.  Instead, the area’s newspapers, whose stated mission is to disseminate information of public interest, have for the past 14 years ignored such claims while the medical providers have poured a steady stream of money into those newspapers’ coffers.

The most revealing of all the lawsuits reported here are the ones involving former gynecologist Akiva Abraham. Abraham is now in prison, but for years he was allowed to practice at Samaritan Hospital despite overwhelming evidence that he was medically and morally unfit.  Some of these indications were available to reporters, and all of them certainly would have been revealed to the hospital if it had done even a cursory check of his background.

But public documents show that either no check was done, or that evidence of Abraham’s sordid history was ignored each time his Samaritan Hospital privileges were renewed.

Once such indication was a $1.5 million lawsuit Abraham filed in 2000 against St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy after he was fired for falsifying a medical record.  That lawsuit – never mentioned by the papers –
revealed that Abraham had previously been disciplined for falsifying a medical record at Albany Medical Center Hospital.  Documents filed during the litigation showed Abraham had made false statements on his application for privileges at St. Mary’s Hospital.

Samaritan Hospital had to know about Abraham’s lawsuit because it was served with a subpoena for its own file on Abraham. But still it allowed him to continue practicing in its facility.

Eventually, Samaritan Hospital – or, more specifically, ultimately the public through higher insurance premiums addind to medical bills – paid the price of these decisions.  In 2012, the hospital settled a 2006 lawsuit brought by an injured patient in which it was accused of negligently granting Abraham staff privileges.

A story on that lawsuit, as unusual and as revealing as it is, should have run in a prime spot on the front page in a Sunday edition. But the entire case was  ignored, even as over the six years of litigation the newspapers between them printed dozens of stories about Abraham’s other problems.

So the newspapers and the hospitals benefit from what can only be called a legal conspiracy. The papers receive the ad revenue; the hospitals avoid publicity that would certainly change their image of being competent and caring.

And then there are the reporters who certainly know of the cozy arrangement, particularly the writers whose beat include the courts. They see legal complaints and appeal decisions and surely must recognize the significance of cases like one against Abraham and Samaritan Hospital.  But knowing that no story would be published they move on to stories that affect no one but the immediate participants, happy in their delusion that they are real, ethical journalists.

The Akiva Abraham stories and many others are at:

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mission corrupted

More hypocrisy at 
the Albany Times Union

By David Baker
Posted Monday Feb. 17, 2014
179 words

The blatant hypocrisy of management at the Time Union continues.  An editorial on Sunday contains the following boast:

“Facts are our stock in trade. Disseminating them is both our business and our mission.”

Except, of course, when applying that mission would affect the business of making money. Then, facts of obvious public interest that would reveal an advertiser’s dangerous conduct are not disseminated but instead are suppressed.

Previous TU editorials have railed against the corrupting influence of money, even as over the past 14 years the paper has ignored dozens of lawsuits filed against advertisers that have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into its coffers.

One of the chapters in my forthcoming book will quote some of these statements, as well as boasts made in print by its egotistical and fundamentally dishonest editor.

The book – and its related web page – will ensure that this editor will soon be inextricably linked in the public’s mind with former physician Akiva Abraham – surely the most reprehensible individual ever to wear a white coat and roam the hospitals of the Capital Region.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

St. Peter's faces fall claims

Broken hips prompt two lawsuits

By David Baker
Posted Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014
269 words

Two lawsuits both alleging that a patient in St. Peter’s Hospital fell and broke a hip are scheduled to go to trial early this year.

In the first claim, it is alleged that in May 2009 Eleanor Maloney, a known fall risk, fell while attempting to walk from her bed to a bathroom after her call bell went unanswered.

“By reason of the negligence of the Defendant, decedent Eleanor D. Maloney sustained severe and permanent injuries including but not limited to displaced fractured right hip, facial contusions, right hip pain, right leg pain and severe bruising to her body,” attorney Tracy L. Bullet of Tabner, Ryan & Keniry alleges in a legal document in the claim.

The hospital is represented by Thorn, Gershon, Tymann & Bonanni.

Maloney died in December 2011. The case is scheduled to go to trial on May 27, 2014.

In the second case, Jennifer Sober, acting as the guardian of Patricia Howland, alleges in a legal document that on December 16, 2010 Howland fell in her hospital room, breaking her right hip.

“…at all times herein relevant,” the document says, “the defendant, its managers agents, servants and/or employees were aware that the said Patricia Howland herein was incapable of properly caring for herself and that she was incapable of walking or standing without assistance.”

As a result of the fall, Howland had surgery to repair a fractured right hip, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit was filed by Robert Beecher of Albany.  St. Peter’s hospital is represented by the law firm Maguire Cardona of Menands.

The case is set for trial on February 10, 2014.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Hospital takes a verdict

A jury finds for a hospital
in morphine-overdose claim

By David Baker
Posted Monday Jan. 13, 2014
344 words

A lawsuit in which it is alleged that a patient at St. Peter’s Hospital was injured by excessive amount of morphine has ended after a jury found for the hospital.

The claim, details of which were first published in here in November 2007, alleged that in April 2005 nursing staff improperly programmed a patient controlled medication dispenser, causing Angela Ryan to receive overdoses of the drug.  A subsequent post described how a judge had ordered the hospital to produce long overdue documents and make witnesses available for depositions.

The case went to trial in December.

A jury verdict in a medical malpractice case is extremely rare. When it does happen, the defendants win in about 80 percent of cases, a statistic cited by insurance companies to promote their claim that many such lawsuits are frivolous.  Ignored in these claims is the fact that most malpractice cases never go to a jury, and that many of them are settled, often after a long legal battle and just before a scheduled trial.

It could not immediate be determined if Ryan will appeal the virdict, or if she is pursuing a claim against the manufacturer of the medication dispenser.  Such a claim would likely be filed in a federal court rather than a state court, and would be hampered by the fact that the dispenser was destroyed by the hospital soon after Ryan’s alleged injury.

The Ryan case, like dozens of other claims filed over the past 15 years against Capital District medical providers, has never been mentioned by the area’s newspapers. This case would seem to present them with a dilemma. The fact that it went to a verdict would make it unusual and therefore newsworthy. But because the hospital prevailed, the papers could be accused of only publishing details of a lawsuit in which a big advertiser won, while ignoring the many other cases against their advertisers, some of them over a death, that have ended with a settlement.

Ryan’s attorney was Thomas Conway of Conway and Kirby in Latham. St. Peter’s Hospital was represented by D’Agostino, Krackeler & Maguire in Menands.

Related story:

Holy war: St. Peter’s Hospital’s strategy of obstruction and delay.

The Ryan lawsuit against St. Peter’s Hospital was filed in 2007.  In a merger in 2012, the hospital joined Northeast Health Inc. – which operates Samaritan Hospital in Troy and Memorial Hospital in Albany , and Seton Health Systems – operator of St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy, under a single governing body with the name St. Peter’s Health Partners.