Roughly 17,000 medical malpractice suits are filed annually in the U.S. Physicians practicing in lower-risk specialties have a 75% chance of facing a malpractice claim, while that figure surges to 99% for higher-risk specialties.
The Titusville Herald investigated a local surgeon that was practicing at Titusville Area Hospital (TAH) with a very disturbing track record of malpractice claims. Dr. Anil Dutt recently left TAH and the new hospital CEO would not reveal the details associated with his departure, stating it is a confidential matter. The Herald did some research, directed interviews and reviewed state and county documents to gain insight into Dr. Dutt's background.
Dutt began his surgical career in the U.S. Army in 1991 and became Chief of General Surgery; however, by 1993 he was alleged to have caused two deaths. The first involved a colonoscopy procedure where Dutt punctured a patient's rectum; the case was settled for $71,000. Next, he was conducting a gallbladder surgery and caused a burn injury to a patient's common bile duct, which lead to a $200,000 award settlement. In 1996, Dutt was accused of removing a man's appendix unnecessarily. In 1999, he was assisting with a spleen removal, when the surgeon abruptly needed to take a break. Dutt surveyed the patient's abdominal cavity to see how it was progressing and he accidentally detached her spleen, leading to her death from a subsequent infection.
In 2001, Stringfellow Memorial Hospital in Alabama limited his hospital privileges. Amid testimony, Dutt explained that the hospital suspended him after they found that he had an excess rate of complications based on four surgical errors that occurred. In 2006, Dutt applied to work at the Governmental Employee Hospital Association, but was denied by the state over concerns of his poor record. The former CEO of TAH, Anthony Nasrella, testified regarding Dutt's hiring in a 2006 hearing. In 2005, Nasrella received two abrupt resignations from surgeons at the facility, leaving him with only one that was 66 years old and seeking retirement. Ultimately, Dutt was given a three-year contract after a physician in Alabama endorsed him on a reference check.
In March of 2006, Dutt applied for a medical license in Pennsylvania and was denied; however, weeks later the Board of Medicine approved his license with some restrictions, which allowed him to pursue employment at TAH. He had a six-month requirement that his surgical operations be proctored. Meanwhile, in September 2006, he voluntarily surrendered his New York license after being charged with misconduct. Wanda Murren, the Press Secretary for the Department of State in Pennsylvania was asked about the decision to license Dutt. She explained that public safety is critical, yet they try to avoid restricting people's livelihood.