District Judge Mike Griffin refused Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit by a group of patients denied gastric bypass surgery when Carson-Tahoe Hospital called a moratorium on bariatric surgeries.
Hospital officials described the decision as a victory because Griffin dismissed claims charging patient abandonment and infliction of emotional distress.
But Patrick King, lawyer for the patients, said those were only two of the nine causes of action in the complaint.
"There are still seven standing causes for relief, and we consider this a solid victory in the sense the judge refused to dismiss the case against the hospital."
When the moratorium was ordered, some 25 patients of Dr. Kent Skogerson were scheduled for the delicate surgery to dramatically reduce the size of the stomach in obese individuals. King said as many as 82 patients could be involved if the lawsuit is certified as a class action.
Skogerson filed a separate lawsuit against Carson-Tahoe Hospital, accusing it of imposing the moratorium to drive him out of practice at the facility. It charges fraud, breach of contract, conspiracy, defamation and negligence.
The Dec. 1 moratorium, according to the lawsuit, effectively shut down Skogerson's practice.
The hospital ended the moratorium Feb. 1, the same day Skogerson filed the lawsuit. While other doctors have since performed gastric bypass surgery at C-TH, Skogerson has not, according to King.
Hospital lawyers have argued the court has no power to determine proper policies and protocols for care provided to patients.
"Dr. Skogerson is asking this court to second-guess the hospital's reasonable administrative policies and procedures relating to patient care," the lawyers argued in a motion to dismiss Skogerson's lawsuit. "The right to enjoy medical staff privileges in a community hospital is not an absolute right, but rather is subject to the reasonable rules and regulations of the hospital."
They made the same argument Tuesday in asking dismissal of the patient lawsuit, but Griffin refused the motion.
"Carson-Tahoe Hospital is confident that both the decision to impose the temporary suspension and the policies and procedures that resulted from the process used during the period of suspension were proper and in the best interests of patient safety," said Kevin Stansbury, C-TH chief operating officer.
King said his efforts now will focus on moving the cases to trial to restore Skogerson's reputation and compensate the patients involved.
Contact Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.