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Fresno Heart Surgeon Sued for Malpractice, Again

Dr. Pervaiz Chaudhry and Community Regional Medical Center have been sued by the family of a man, Gregory Riddle, who died shortly after Dr. Chaudhry operated on him. As Rick Montanez reported for KFSN News, the family hadn't known the Medical Board of California was investigating the case until the Board called at home.

This lawsuit makes it Chaudhry's fourth.

Unfortunately, despite the Medical Board's involvement, there are too many holes in the medical files. There's too much missing, according to the family's lawyer. "They were really unaware of any negligence or malpractice, but obviously that gave rise to some suspicion," the lawyer said, in reference to the Medical Board's investigation.

So the family was forced to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in order to fill in those missing holes.

What is medical malpractice?

According to the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys, "Medical malpractice occurs when a hospital, doctor or other health care professional, through a negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient. The negligence might be the result of errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare or health management."

Surgical errors are included among the ABPLA's list of examples of medical malpractice.

Why would the Medical Board of California get involved?

Its mission is to protect health care consumers (patients). It fulfills its mission in part by disciplining doctors who warrant such discipline. But, according to the Medical Board's Q&A on its investigation process (PDF link), the standard of proof is much tougher than ordinary civil suits, requiring "clear and convincing evidence to a reasonable certainty."

This means that, though the Medical Board may have opened an investigation because of someone's complaint, this will not necessarily lead to discipline. Those cases that do not provide clear evidence that a doctor violated the Medical Practice Act (or other laws) will likely be closed.

Why did the Riddle family file a malpractice suit?

As mentioned above, the standard of proof in administrative cases originally investigated by the Medical Board (and later prosecuted by the California Attorney General's Office), is much higher than the standard of proof in civil cases.

Medical malpractice cases are civil cases, and as the Riddle's attorney pointed out in the KFSN News report, filing a malpractice suit against Chaudhry and the Community Regional Medical Center might be the only way to get answers. The Riddle family must still prove its case in order to prevail, but Chaudhry's defense team will need to provide answers as to what happened in the operating room.

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