Hospital hires firm to review surgery program after physician's 21 malpractice settlements

Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, N.H., has hired Pittsburgh-based law firm Horty Springer & Mattern to conduct an "independent, external review" of its cardiac surgery program. The move comes after the hospital allegedly protected a surgeon with 21 malpractice settlements. 

The firm will evaluate the safety and quality of the hospital's cardiac surgery program, according to an Oct. 13 news release from the hospital shared with Becker's. The firm will also investigate processes related to its staffing, administration and board, including how leadership handles physician concerns. 

The review will take several months and will be facilitated by a special committee of the board of trustees, according to the release. No members of the administration or medical staff will sit on the special committee. 

On Sept. 7, The Boston Globe released a two-part investigation into the practices of Yvon Baribeau, MD, a cardiac surgeon who served at Catholic Medical Center until his retirement in 2019. Dr. Baribeau had one of the worst medical malpractice records in the country, according to the Globe

Physicians frequently expressed concerns about Dr. Baribeau's malpractice — one cardiologist filed a whistleblower suit against him in 2018, and physicians took the case to the Catholic Church — but according to the Globe, the hospital protected and continued to celebrate Dr. Baribeau, who could earn up to $200,000 off one case. 

In 2018, Dr. Baribeau committed five surgical errors in five weeks that led to patient injury or death, the Globe reported. In 2020, he settled 17 claims made against him, spanning six years of surgeries.

On Sept. 14, one week after the initial Globe piece was released, the newspaper published an update: Catholic Medical Center told employees it would hire an outside firm to review its "clinical oversight and accountability, peer review and reporting processes."

"This review will help us understand what could have been done better in the past but, most importantly, it helps us chart a future based on industry-leading best practices," Tim Riley, chair of the hospital's board, said in the release shared with Becker's

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