Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Doctors file bias suit over loss of privileges at Pasco hospital

HUDSON — Lawyers for the nine cardiologists who were suspended in 2004 from performing angioplasties at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point are now accusing the hospital of racial discrimination.

Nine lawsuits, filed in federal court this week by prominent Tampa attorney Barry Cohen, say the hospital and its parent chain, HCA Inc., revoked the doctors' privileges and then failed to provide them with an appropriate appeal process because of their "race and ethnic characteristics."

Five of the cardiologists are Indian, three are Arab and one is Hispanic.

In a written statement Tuesday evening, hospital spokesman Kurt Conover said the suspensions resulted from a quality review by a third party of the hospital's catheterization lab.

"The actions we took at that time were solely to further the hospital's health care quality," he said.

The claims of discrimination are the latest twist in the nearly four-year-old dispute between the hospital and the doctors.

The federal lawsuits are separate from the pending civil cases the same doctors filed against the hospital in December 2006 in 6th Judicial Circuit Court, Cohen said Tuesday.

Those 2006 lawsuits, which do not mention racial discrimination, allege the motivation behind the suspensions was financial: The less expensive angioplasties were outpacing the number of costly bypass surgeries.

Cohen declined Tuesday to make additional comments. The new lawsuits ask for unspecified financial damages.

The latest lawsuits do not offer specific evidence of discrimination except in one allegation: HCA "required minority members" of the hospital's board of trustees to recuse themselves during a December 2004 meeting in which administrators presented the findings of the review.

That was the meeting at which administrators recommended trustees revoke the privileges of the nine cardiologists. (The findings of the review have not been made public, but the lawsuits say the consultant did not recommend taking any action against the doctors.)

The court filings do not say how many trustees recused themselves, what their names are or whether HCA gave any reasons for requiring the trustees to step aside during the presentation.

The nine cardiologists in the case are Sudhir Agarwal, Gopal Chalavarya, Charles Saniour, Adel Eldin, Mahmoud Nimer, Dipak Parekh, Thomas Mathews, Joseph Idicula and Rene Kunhardt.

Last year, the chief of staff at Bayonet Point told the Times that the hospital had reinstated the privileges of three of those doctors following an internal review. It is unclear whether the hospital has since reinstated privileges for any of the other six doctors.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at or (727) 869-6247.

Doctors file bias suit over loss of privileges at Pasco hospital 12/02/08 [Last modified: Thursday, December 4, 2008 12:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Clearwater man hospitalized after diving from boat into shallow waters

    Public Safety

    A 49-year-old man was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries Sunday after he jumped off a pontoon boat into shallow waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

  2. Restaurant review: Features Gastropub in Riverview is fine as movie theater fare, but unimpressive otherwise

    Food & Dining

    Movies aren't exactly dying. Despite all the sturm und drang of predictions that Netflix and streaming videos would kill the cinema, global box office receipts hit $38.6 billion in 2016, a 1 percent gain over the previous year. But that doesn't mean going to the cinema is precisely what it was a generation …

  3. JFK's last birthday: Gifts, champagne and wandering hands on the presidential yacht


    It has been 100 years since John F. Kennedy's birth on May 29, 1917, at his parents' home in Brookline, Mass., just outside Boston. Over the course of his life, Kennedy enjoyed lavish birthday celebrations, the most famous being a Democratic fundraising bash at Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962, when a sequined …

    President John F. Kennedy aboard the Sequoia in 1963 opening birthday presents. [Robert Knudsen | John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum]
  4. 1 in 4 Florida adults aren't registered to vote, according to non-partisan group


    TALLAHASSEE — Five million people in Florida who are eligible to vote aren't registered, according to a nationwide non-partisan group that helps improve the accuracy of state voter rolls.

    Voters line up in front of the Coliseum Ballroom in St. Petersburg on Nov. 8. A non-partisan group estimates that more than a quarter of Florida's adult-age population isn't registered to vote. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  5. Rays morning after: A lot that went into a marathon win


    Rays manager Kevin Cash had a simple strategy when Fox Sports Sun's Alex Corddry asked him how the team would move on from Sunday's marathon win and get ready to face the Rangers tonight in Texas:

    Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays celebrates as teammate Michael Martinez slides safely into home plate to score a run against the Minnesota Twins during the 14th inning.