Lawsuits Against Yankton Docs and Admins for Sossan Malpractice Get Boost from Judge

Plaintiffs suing some Yankton hospitals and the executive and peer review committees over the deadly malpractice of fugitive surgeon Allen Sossan just got a big boost from Circuit Court Judge Bruce Anderson. According the Jonathan Ellis, Judge Anderson has ruled that hospitals and individuals involved in credentialing decisions can be sued for allowing bad doctors to practice:

Anderson’s ruling sets the stage for South Dakota becoming a state that allows lawsuits against health providers under a concept known as “negligent credentialing.” At least 30 other states recognize the tort that hospitals have an obligation not to allow health providers to practice.

“Based upon this court’s review of the law and the briefs presented in these cases it appears South Dakota has all the necessary legal precedents as ingredients other courts have found prerequisite to adopting such a claim including a hospital’s duty of care for patient safety,” Anderson wrote [Jonathan Ellis, “Ruling Opens Hospitals to Lawsuits,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.10.26].

Judge Anderson also ruled that defendants in cases like the Sossan lawsuits cannot claim peer review privilege as an absolute defense against discovery requests. Judge Anderson says that hospitals’ obligation to the public can outweigh professional confidentiality concerns.

The lawsuits against Yankton hospitals and decision-makers has implications beyond simply making things right for patients and family survivors who suffered losses at the hands of Dr. Sossan. Lt. Gov. Matt Michels, as attorney for Avera Sacred Heart Hospital, is among the defendants named in the pending lawsuits. Licensed Yankton physician Harald Lars Aanning has filed an affidavit in one of those lawsuits stating that attorney Michels played a pivotal role in securing the Avera Medical Executive Council’s (MEC) approval of Sossan’s employment:

Harald Lars Aanning, affidavit, 2014.05.18; filed 66CIV15-000065, 2015.08.30.
Harald Lars Aanning, affidavit, 2014.05.18; filed 66CIV15-000065, 2015.08.30, p. 2.

If Matt Michels is held liable for subjecting Yankton patients to Allen Sossan’s malpractice, the Lieutenang Governor may have trouble entering the 2018 gubernatorial lottery.

8 Responses to Lawsuits Against Yankton Docs and Admins for Sossan Malpractice Get Boost from Judge

  1. These Sossan lawsuits are a big deal. Sossan should have never been licensed in SD as a physician because he had a felony conviction he lied about on his application. That one slipped by someone, but he’s now hiding out in Iran to escape these lawsuits and to escape perjury charges in SD.

    Besides the fact he shouldn’t have been licensed as a physician, Sossan also had a history full of red flags that should have prevented him from getting credentialed at Avera Sacred Heart and Lewis & Clark Specialty Hospital in Yankton. But those hospitals really really really wanted an orthopedic surgeon to bring in the cash – and that Sossan did. He also abused and harassed staff – even chasing one lady being chased into her office where she locked her door and called police on Sossan. Then there were the unnecessary surgeries and negligent results. But the money kept rolling in.

    People want to trust their doctors and their hospitals. These cases show that you can’t always trust them. Judge Anderson has done the public a great service by ruling that money grubbers who know better can’t hide behind peer review committee and credentialing committee confidentiality when they know or should have known that their decisions are putting patients at great risk.

  2. bret clanton

    Could this also apply to the same practice of administrators and school boards giving glowing recommendations to teachers and staff just to get rid of them ?

  3. All of those unnecessary procedures make insurance premiums raise, so we all are on the hook for this. Thanks to this dude and mostly Marco Rubio, we get a 45% rate increase on our health insurance, thanks republicans, thanks a lot.

  4. mike from iowa

    Jerrt,I thought I heard the new 2 year spending agreement stops the big rate hikes for socialized medicine.

  5. mfi, No, Marco Rubio slipped a poison pill into the Cromnibus Act with section 227. That little nugget prevents the HHS from making payments to the insurers via the risk corridor provision that we all paid for when the ACA began. So when Blue Cross and Dakotacare start the fake noise about maternity and people using the insurance and then mysteriously cancelling the policy for the 45% and 60% rate increases, you know that they are scared of naming the people at fault, the republicans. Daugaard’s insurance division was very quick to not even question the rate requests and just granted them like they do all the rest of the crony requests. Those insurance companies made a bad risk assessment as they probably did not read the section so they lost their arse’s on claims, with no recourse other than to come hat in hand to Daugaard. The regular ACA plans were not impacted on this, so the premiums rose slightly in comparison.

  6. Lars Aanning

    Back around about 1999-2000 I was asked by the Sacred Heart Hospital’s executive committee to attend a peer review session to explain two surgical procedures I was performing on a regular basis…both procedures were subsequently presented at national meetings and one was recently presented as a video at the American College of Surgeon’s Clinical Congress held this October in Chicago…I came to the meeting fully prepared to answer any questions about these procedures…but at the meeting I was met by stone-faced silence of the executive committee members…failing to elicit any questions I excused myself from the meeting…only later did I learn that Matt Michels, the hospital’s chief attorney, had coached the committee: “Let Lars do all the talking…don’t ask him any questions…don’t engage him in any discussion”…this experience taught me that physician peer review deliberations can be fraudulently hijacked by hospital attorneys…I hope that most hospitals’ CEOs would never allow this to happen on their watch…

  7. Lars, that’s serious stuff. Thanks for sharing that experience. Why did Michels not want to the board to engage in any discussion of the procedures you were explaining?

  8. Lars Aanning

    Good question!…and just happened to see it!…I have to believe that the board’s mindset had already been set in stone, and Michels used this tactic to avoid any semblance of a peer review discussion…meeting total silence was indeed a total surprise and obviously unnerved me…perhaps he felt I would loose my cool and, in frustration, make a spectacle of myself…as it turned out, I excused myself (as I described in the above comment)…somewhat later, I was asked to obtain a psychiatric evaluation for what the administration and its executive committee president described as “disruptive behavior”…I agreed…the evaluation was virtually normal…but a few minutes into the evaluation (by an Avera psychiatrist in Sioux Falls) this psychiatrist looked me straight on and said, “Wow!! They really hate you!”…obviously, Michel’s intent was to have me disappear as I was an advocate for financial restraint in healthcare and a patient advocate…thankfully, I saved all the paperwork…