HOUSTON, MARCH 28, 2004
SEEMA HAKHU KACHRU
NRI, Dr Ramesh Srungaram, 52, weight loss surgeon who has been sued
22 times for alleged medical malpractice, has shut his practice. He
worked at several hospitals in recent years, in spite of the lawsuits
and complaints against him, quit from the Houston Community Hospital
on March 19. According to the report, two years ago at Highland Medical
Center in Lubbock, Texas, four patients were rushed to University Medical
Center in critical condition over two days, after Srungaram performed
gastric bypass surgery. One of the four died and Srungaram resigned.
However, Dr Srungaram was accepted a month later by Houston Community
Hospital where one of his patients, Chris Berwick, died several months
after undergoing laparoscopic bypass surgery, the Houston Chronicle
said. It was there that another patient Donna Collins died last year
11 days after Srungaram performed bypass surgery on her. Collins
family brought a medical malpractice suit against Srungaram one
of 22 filed against him only to discover that neither the doctor,
nor the hospital had insurance at the time.
Weight-loss surgeon closely monitored,
concern over track record
AUSTIN, December 13, 2003
A Sugar Land weight-loss surgeon, whose Houston and Lubbock
patients suffered kidney failure, bloodstream infections and even death,
is being closely monitored by the state agency that regulates physicians,
officials said Friday.
Dr. Ramesh K. Srungaram, who performed surgeries at Cypress
Fairbanks Hospital in Houston and at Highland Medical Center in Lubbock
until 2002, was put on probation for seven and a half years, fined $25,000
and ordered to operate only in the presence of another surgeon approved
by the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners, state regulators said
Its not inconceivable that theres more
(disciplinary actions) to come in this case, said Dr. Donald Patrick,
executive director of the state medical board. A spokeswoman at Srungarams
office, Obesity Surgery Specialists at 11811 FM 1960 West, said the
doctor had no comment about the boards ruling.
Srungaram, 52, operates at Houston Community Hospital,
2807 Little York Road. In the past, he has flown between Houston and
Lubbock performing procedures, Patrick said.
Bariatric, or weight-loss, surgery is a really,
really popular sub-specialty now, Patrick said, but that procedures
often are complicated by the fact that many of the patients are medically
fragile due to obesity-related problems such as diabetes and high
Experts estimate the mortality rate from the surgery itself
is one in 200. Potential problems may include intestinal leaks, serious
bleeding, infections, blood clots in the lungs and abdominal abscesses.
Even so, Srungarams track record raised concerns
among hospital and state officials.
Following an alarming spate of bad outcomes among Srungarams
weight-loss surgery patients, Cypress Fairbanks suspended the doctors
privileges in June 2002, according to medical board documents. The hospital
later restored his privileges with the understanding the doctor would
work under supervision, but Srungaram resigned. Similarly, Srungaram
resigned from the Lubbock hospital after his privileges were suspended
in August 2002 pending further investigation.
The state medical board said, during a seven-day period
in July 2002, four of Srungarams Lubbock patients developed serious
complications after weight-loss surgery and one patient died.
The fatality was a 49-year-old woman with diabetes, high
blood pressure and arthritis, who learned about Srungarams services
through an Internet site, the board said. After gastric bypass surgery,
she developed a leak from her small intestine, breathing problems and
kidney failure and was transferred in critical condition to Texas Tech
University Medical Center where she later died.
Another Lubbock patient, a 450-pound woman, developed
a leak and required additional surgeries and had to be transferred to
Texas Tech University Medical Center.
Based on the opinion of the Boards consultant,
(Srungarams) care for these four patients was below the acceptable
standard, the board said.
During 2001 and 2002, Srungaram performed 123 gastric
bypass procedures at the Cypress Fairbanks facility and 11 of those
patients experienced complications as a result of the procedure, the
state medical board said.
Several of the patients required additional surgeries
to correct problems and had lengthy hospital stays. One 38-year-old
woman wound up in an emergency room with septic shock following her
surgery. She had to be put on mechanical ventilation and was eventually
placed in a long-term acute care facility.
Srungarams recruited many of his patients via an
Internet site or at seminars on bariatric, or weight-loss, surgery.
A free, informational weight-loss surgery Web site, www.obesehelp.net,
connects Srungaram and other doctors to prospective patients, said Scott
Douglass, the Web sites owner. The state medical boards
disciplinary order bans the doctor from accepting any patients through
Srungarams surgical supervisor, or proctor, will
participate in the next 100 bariatric surgeries performed by Srungaram,
according to the boards order. That doctor also will prepare written
reports documenting any deficiencies or recommendations to improve Srungarams
Srungaram was honored in 1987 by the Denton A. Cooley
Cardiovascular Surgical Society as an outstanding trainee at the Texas
Heart Institute at St. Lukes Episcopal Hospital.