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Depositions slated in Excela doctors' defamation lawsuit

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By Richard Gazarik
Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Attorneys representing Excela Health of Greensburg in a defamation lawsuit filed by two cardiologists will take depositions next month, according to a court filing in Pittsburgh.

Drs. George R. Bou Samra and Ehab F. Morcos sued Excela, Drs. Jerome Granato and Robert Staffen, Latrobe Cardiology Associates, Mercer Health & Benefits LLC and the American Medical Foundation for Peer Review, claiming allegations that they performed unnecessary cardiac stent procedures and damaged their professional reputations, according to the lawsuit.

Judge Stanton Wettick Jr. ordered that depositions to start in January and be completed by June, meaning if the case is not settled, it is unlikely a trial will begin until late next year or sometime in 2015.

Attorneys for Excela already have issued subpoenas for several witnesses, according to the court docket. They include a former physician at Excela and a former manager of the cardiac catheterization unit, two nurses and a cardiovascular invasive specialist who assisted on stent procedures.

Lawyers are seeking documents related to procedures the physicians performed and any “allegations of overuse” of stents, according to the subpoena.

In November, attorneys subpoenaed records from Westmoreland County Cardiology where Bou Samra and Morcos formerly worked. The subpoena includes information about personnel, patient and financial records related to the physicians' employment as well as business records and any documents related to the proposed purchase of Westmoreland County Cardiology by Excela Health.

Lawyers want to review all payments made to Bou Samra and Morcos from 2008 to present and any personal expenses, such as health care, auto expenses and vacation time. They also are seeking the number of nuclear stress tests the two performed and the amount of revenue the procedures generated. As part of their review, attorneys want patient medical records concerning angioplasty and stent procedures.

Westmoreland County Cardiology is headed by Dr. James Adisey.

Bou Samra and Morcos were the subjects of an independent review by Excela, which hired outside experts to examine the number of procedures the doctors performed and whether they were medically necessary. The review found that stent implantation was unnecessary in a number of cases.

That finding triggered a spate of malpractice suits against Excela that are pending in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or rgazarik@tribweb.com.

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