Memorial Hospital in Florida Ordered to Pay $10M for "Center of Excellence" False Advertising

Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., has been ordered to pay $10 million in damages after a jury found the hospital falsely advertised its weight loss program as a "Center of Excellence" by allowing a surgeon who did not meet the American Society of Bariatric Surgery's requirements to perform surgery, according to a JD Supra report.

The plaintiff in the case, Clay Chandler, underwent the weight loss procedure in 2007 with surgeon John DePeri, MD. As a result of post-op uncorrected leakage in his abdomen, Mr. Chandler suffered a stroke. He now has brain damage and is confined to a wheelchair.

Through pamphlets and other marketing materials, the hospital touted the weight loss program with a "Center of Excellence" designation and claimed it was accredited with the ASBS's Center of Excellence seal. To receive that seal, providers within the program are required to have performed at least 50 bariatric surgeries and completed at least 20 hours of bariatric education courses. Testimony revealed Dr. DePeri allegedly fell short of these requirements when he operated on Mr. Chandler.

The jury found that the hospital knowingly allowed Dr. DePeri to perform on patients despite his falling short of these requirements.

The jury awarded Mr. Chandler and his family roughly $168 million in medical negligence and fraud damages from Memorial Hospital. The hospital was also ordered to pay $10 million in punitive damages for the false advertising of a center for excellence.

Bariatric and metabolic surgery is one of two programs certified by the Surgical Review Corporation for Centers of Excellence status. The ASBS Center of Excellence requirements can be found here.

Related Articles on Hospital Lawsuits:

Los Angeles Hospital Accused of Patient-Dumping
Hospitals Referring Patients to Malpractice Attorneys: Conflict of Interest?
11 Lawsuits Against Hospitals Over False Claims, Kickbacks or Stark Law

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