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. Trump's lawyers seek to undercut Mueller's Russia investigation


    Some of President Donald Trump's lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president's authority to grant pardons, the Washington Post reported, citing people familiar …

    President Donald Trump is said to be irritated by the notion that the special counsel's investigation could reach into his and his family's finances. [Associated Press]
  2. North Tampa shooting leaves one man dead


    Times staff

    TAMPA — A man was fatally shot Thursday afternoon after an argument with another man escalated, police said.

  3. St. Pete City Council tightens building rules in historic areas

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — There's a battle being waged over the soul of the city's historic neighborhoods.

    A new larger home sits next to a smaller one in the Kenwood neighborhood in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.
  4. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct' (w/ video)


    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  5. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater


    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.