Dr. John Brannigan, an obstetrician and gynecologist who practiced in Los Banos and Merced, is suing Memorial Hospital Los Banos, its parent company Sutter Health and Dr. Jason Mevi.
The court case, a jury trial, is being heard in Merced Superior Court. Brannigan alleges that the hospital, Mevi and Sutter Health retaliated against him because he complained about the standard of care the hospital was giving its patients.
In the lawsuit, Brannigan says he first tried to talk to hospital supervisors about the problems in the labor and delivery area, but nothing was done to correct the problems.
He complained to the California Department of Health Services in 2004, and a visit to the hospital by the department resulted in a statement of deficiency.
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The DHS investigates all complaints about hospitals and other health care facilities, and the findings are public record.
In this case, the department found that the quality of care was deficient, and asked the hospital to prepare a plan of correction. Problems included the lack of written policies and procedures for treatment in obstetrical and gynecological care.
Memorial Hospital Los Banos submitted a plan of correction, and it was accepted by the DHS. Lea Brooks, spokeswoman for the DHS, said every complaint about a hospital is investigated, and if the accusations are bad enough, it can fine the hospital.
Thirteen California hospitals were each recently fined $25,000 because of problems, Brooks said.
Jeffrey Rager, an attorney from Torrance, is representing Brannigan in the civil suit. He said Brannigan complained to the hospital in 2003 and 2004 about problems he saw in the labor and delivery area, but his complaints were ignored, so he went to the state.
After the state filed its findings, Brannigan alleges, hospital staff, including Mevi, retaliated against him.
"They said he had disruptive behavior and poor clinical performance," Rager said, adding that there were no complaints about his client until after he complained.
Brannigan left Los Banos and moved to another state, where he tried to get another job. However, the hospital gave him bad recommendations, Rager said, and Brannigan's license is currently delinquent.
Brannigan was recruited by the hospital in 2002. He practiced there through December 2004.
Brannigan has accusations against him and is being investigated by the Medical Board of California. The accusations include gross negligence, repeated negligent acts and incompetence.