Hospital publicly supports doctor

A Maine malpractice verdict is challenged.

By Tanya Albert amednews correspondent — Posted July 26, 2004

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Doctors who lose medical malpractice lawsuits often get verbal support from colleagues. But support for a Maine cardiologist who recently lost his case has been put in black and white for an entire community to see.

York Hospital took out 3-inch-by-8-inch ads in seven local weekly and daily newspapers telling readers in bold black letters: "We Support Alan Hymanson, MD." It is believed to be the first advertisement of its kind in the region and something that is rare anywhere in the nation.

A York County jury found York Hospital and emergency department staff not negligent in a medical malpractice case in which emergency department patient Joan Healy was prescribed Retavase. The clot-busting medication caused a brain hemorrhage. Healy died. But the jury found Dr. Hymanson negligent and awarded the Healy family $1.6 million.

The hospital, in print, said it disagreed with the jury's judgment.

"While our thoughts have been with the Healy family throughout this process, we know that Dr. Hymanson followed proper medical procedure in treating Mrs. Healy and was not in any way negligent," the more than 230-word ad reads. "Dr. Hymanson is an experienced cardiologist ... who has provided exceptional care for our patients over the last 20 years and will continue to do so."

A four-person state medical malpractice screening panel that met after the lawsuit was filed found that neither the hospital nor Dr. Hymanson was negligent in treating Healy. The decision by two physicians, a judge and a lawyer was unanimous. But that decision is not binding, and lawyers can continue to pursue their lawsuit, as happened in this case.

Dr. Hymanson filed post-trial motions asking the judge to overturn the verdict. If those fail, he will appeal it.

"I am extremely gratified by the support of a large number of professional colleagues, friends and patients," Dr. Hymanson said.

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