When 38-year-old construction worker Curtis Wren allowed neurosurgeon Faisal Albanna to perform bone fusion surgery in 1998 to correct an injury he suffered on the job, he had no idea Albanna had been sued for medical malpractice. It wasn’t until that operation forced Wren to visit the emergency room, undergo corrective surgery, retire early, and file his own lawsuit that he learned about those other claims.
“I’ve been doing medical negligence work … for 26 or 27 years, and I’ve never seen as many cases filed against one person,” Wren’s lawyer told reporters.
In fact, Albanna has been named as defendant in 50 negligence lawsuits and four wrongful death lawsuits since 1987, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
So, asked the lawyer of one patient whose spine surgery left him hunched over and in permanent pain, “Why do the hospitals let a guy like this on staff?”
The answer may lie in the $12 million a year gross revenue he generated for Des Peres Hospital. Not surprisingly, several people have sued Des Peres’ parent, Tenet Healthcare Corp., for renewing Albanna’s credentials. Tenet has settled four of those lawsuits.
The Missouri State Board of Registration for the Healing Arts began investigating Albanna in the 1990s and then “sanctioned him for ‘unprofessional conduct’ and ‘repeated negligence’” in 2003, according to the Post-Dispatch. Albanna appealed, but the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the decision and determined that Wren didn’t even need that bone fusion surgery that forced him into early retirement.
Ultimately, Albanna settled with the medical board and agreed to four years’ probation and public reprimand “for performing more extensive than warranted surgeries” on two patients. But, typically, doctors and insurance companies are very secretive about whether a doctor has been sued for medical malpractice. So how can you find out? Watch Chris Mellino’s brief video below.
As for Albanna, the 60-year-old reportedly took a leave of absence from Des Peres Hospital in August 2011, told a court that he is no longer practicing medicine, and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy earlier this year.
Still, the lawsuits keep coming – including one for the wrongful death of a 23-year-old who died one day after Albanna operated to remove a tube from the hydrocephalic patient’s brain.
How can I find out if my doctor has been sued before for medical malpractice?