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Letter to the editor,

Recently, The Oregonian has published two articles on medical records; "Surgeons' errors often unreported" on May 8, 2005 and "Cost, image worries hamper data on doctor care" on May 10, 2005. In both of these articles there were references to Dr. Jayant M. Patel or "Dr. Death" formerly of the Permanente Medical Group (Kaiser).

Kaiser Permanente NW has for years maintained that their computerized record keeping system was state-of-the-art and, in fact, being used as a model for other Kaiser Permanente areas. One of the articles states...

"Advocates say that information and more should be freely available to help health care consumers choose a hospital or surgeon and to highlight physicians such as Patel, who was sanctioned by state regulators after his employer, Kaiser Permanente, restricted his practice following an in-house review of 79 surgeries. Kaiser has not said what prompted it to flag those cases. Today, however, the organization is often cited as one of the few health systems to consistently track patient outcomes using computer programs and data analysts who regularly combine data from patient charts, lab tests, hospital visits and pharmacy records."

It is incomprehensible how Dr. Patel could have avoided this stated finetoothed scrutiny. He was hired after serious disciplinary action in New York state. He worked at Kaiser for 11 years during which...

-79 formal medical complaints were filed.
-3 deaths directly attributable to Dr. Patel were admitted by Kaiser.
-An unknown number of deaths were settled under confidentiality agreements.
-An unknown number of people were permanently damaged by this doctor.
-There may well have been other charges filed against this doctor and Kaiser not included in the 79 complaints.

How could all of this gone unnoticed?

Electronic records are of no benefit if nobody is watching the radar screen.

Miguel Perez-Lizano

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