Malpractice News

January 11, 2012

Smigaj Lawsuit against Memorial Hospital Reinstated

The pision III Court of Appeals in Spokane has found that obstetrician Diana Smigaj presented enough evidence in her appeal to suggest that Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital misused its peer review process when it suspended her from the hospital, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported.

An earlier decision by the Yakima County Superior Court that she owed nearly $500,000 in legal fees to the hospital was also reversed.

Smigaj was temporarily suspended from the hospital in 2008, after the Perinatal Quality Assurance Committee questioned her competence, and decided she showed poor medical judgment in three of her cases. Smigaj filed a lawsuit against the hospital saying administrators and physicians at the hospital used the peer-review process to weed her out.

Kittitas County Superior Court Judge Michael Cooper dismissed her case and ordered her to pay nearly a half-million dollars to the hospital for attorney fees. The reversal of the appellate court restored Smigaj’s lawsuit. The court found the peer review committee did not make a reasonable attempt to obtain the facts in her case, by not interviewing nursing staff, and on two occasions, by not directly communicating with the doctor employed as a consultant on her cases. The case will now be moved back to Superior Court. "I want my day in court ... I want everything that happened to be out and in public," Smigaj said. "It's all I've wanted the whole time. I want to be judged fairly."

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