Consumer Watchdog Calls On Attorney General To Investigate Fresno Hospital Accused Of Covering Up Doctor’s Negligence

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Los Angeles, CA – The state must launch an immediate investigation into a Fresno hospital and its executives accused by whistleblowers of covering up years of negligence and substance abuse by a cardiac surgeon who was a significant source of revenue for the hospital, Consumer Watchdog wrote in a letter sent to the Attorney General and President of the state Medical Board yesterday. 

The letter comes four years after the nonprofit, nonpartisan group first called on the Attorney General and Medical Board of California to protect the public from Dr. Pervaiz Chaudhry and the apparent coverup of his dangerous misconduct by Community Regional Medical Center. In one case, the Department of Public Health found that Chaudhry walked out of surgery early to go to lunch, allowing a physician assistant to complete the procedure and ultimately leaving his patient, Silvino Perez, in a coma. In March of 2018 a jury delivered a $68 million verdict in that case. Dr. Chaudhry has since settled that suit and four other negligence cases.

Read Consumer Watchdog’s 2018 letter here.

Read Consumer Watchdog’s 2014 letter here.

“Public safety demands an immediate investigation by the Attorney General’s office into the apparent fraudulent coverup by Community Regional Medical Center of Dr. Chaudhry’s pattern of negligence and substance abuse, placing financial gain over patient safety. Community Regional Medical Center executives should be held personally responsible if their decisions, or inaction, placed patients in harm’s way,” wrote Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog.

According to the Medical Board’s website, Dr. Chaudhry’s license is “active and current” with no disciplinary actions and no court judgments or malpractice settlements reported.

“It is almost too late for the Medical Board to correct its failure to discipline Dr. Chaudhry, as he has reportedly left the country. The Board nevertheless owes Dr. Chaudhry’s patients a public explanation of how he was allowed to continue seeing patients with no restrictions and no notification for four years after the Board was alerted to credible allegations of a pattern of negligence and drinking on the job,” wrote Consumer Watchdog.

The Fresno Bee reported last week on a new lawsuit filed by the family of Gregory Riddle against Community Regional Medical Center (CRMC) alleging that several operating room staffers reported to their supervisors that Dr. Chaudhry was drunk during the surgery that cost Mr. Riddle his life. The suit says those concerns were relayed up the ranks at CRMC, ultimately reaching then-CEO Jack Chubb. However, according to the suit, “instead of properly investigating the numerous allegations received about Dr. Chaudry’s intoxication, Jack Chubb, the CEO of CRMC, assured Dr. Chaudhry that the hospital would take care of it and that this was procedural.”

Read the Fresno Bee story:

“The Fresno Bee previously reported that the hospital peer review undertaken in Mr. Perez’s case resulted in a fourteen-day suspension for Chaudhry. Such minor discipline in a case corroborated by the Department of Public Health, and which falls just below the 15-day threshold that would have mandated that the hospital report Chaudhry’s actions to the Medical Board, is further evidence that the hospital went out of its way to protect Dr. Chaudhry,” said Consumer Watchdog’s letter.

“Dr. Chaudhry’s case has laid bare the failures of a doctor disciplinary system in which investigation times have doubled and less than 20% of patient complaints are ever even investigated.  The black box in which the Medical Board secretly decides whether or not to investigate complaints about serious physician misconduct is no longer acceptable. We urge the Medical Board to provide an open and honest public accounting of where the Board went wrong in this case, and how it will improve physician disciplinary action going forward. The need for greater transparency and accountability in doctor oversight is clear,” the group wrote.

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Carmen Balber
Carmen Balber
Consumer Watchdog executive director Carmen Balber has been with the organization for nearly two decades. She spent four years directing the group’s Washington, D.C. office where she advocated for key health insurance market reforms that were ultimately enacted into law as part of the Affordable Care Act.

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