By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The controversy surrounding alleged ‘unnecessary procedures’ by local cardiologists and numerous lawsuits took another twist last week.
In a statement released on Friday, Saint Joseph London hospital confirmed Dr. Satyabrata Chatterjee and Dr. Ashwini Anand were no longer affiliated with Saint Joseph Medical Foundation and Saint Joseph London. The split between the two cardiovascular specialists and the local hospital came on Wed., Oct. 16.
“Arrangements are underway to provide consistent physician coverage in their clinics utilizing remaining cardiologists to ensure a safe, high quality, and patient-centered cardiac program. Saint Joseph London is also actively recruiting additional cardiologists,” the statement reads.
Hospital officials declined any further comments on the departure of these cardiologists from their facility.
Calls to Chatterjee’s offices at Heart Treatment Center located in Saint Joseph London’s facility were unanswered. A recorded message at the Heart Treatment Center at Premier Heart and Vascular Center on Fifth Street stated the office was closed on Fridays.
The dismissal of these two cardiologists is the latest saga of the ongoing lawsuits filed against the London hospital. Other cardiologists named in some of the lawsuits have since left the London facility. One former cardiologist, Dr. Sandesh Patil, was recently sentenced to 30 months in prison for medical fraud. Patil pled guilty to the charge, admitting he misrepresented the charges on one procedure in order to collect from Medicare. But a transcript of the sentencing hearing revealed Patil admitted his salary with the heart specialists was based upon the number of procedures he performed while at the London hospital. Patil stated he reached — and exceeded — his quota, although he received no further compensation for passing his required surgical procedures.
Another former cardiologist, Dr. Raul Vilca, was placed under restriction by the Kentucky Medical Licensure Board in April after an investigation revealed Vilca had violated “the standards of acceptable and prevailing medical practice” in the state of Kentucky. In a review of five of Vilca’s patient records, investigators determined Vilca’s treatment and record-keeping of those five were less than the minimum standards in two cases, and borderline in a third. Vilca was found to be incompetent in another case.
Vilca was then put on restriction for five years, was ordered to participate in certain documentation and procedural classes and to pay for those at his own expense, then provide documentation of completion to the licensure board; obtain a history and physical evaluation on every patient before doing a procedure, including copies of Medicaid and must use the appropriate criteria according to medical practice.
Although Vilca could have continued his medical practice, he did not renew his license in 2013, according to Bertha Wallen with the KBML’s Legal department. Wallen said any physician must renew their license practice medicine in this state.