By Dr. Janet Parker, D.V.M.
Dr. Lokesh Babu Vuyyuru, M.D., from Virginia risked his medical career to provide critical information to the FBI about the massive medical fraud done by the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA, formerly known as Columbia-HCA) and Community Health Systems (CHS). Dr. Lokesh Vuyyuru, as a leader for patient safety, provided grand jury witness testimony against this powerful hospital chain. Through his work as a newspaper publisher Dr. Vuyyuru has given voice to patient concerns and promoted the improvement of patient care and public health services. In order to silence this brave medical whistleblower, the hospital, the Virginia Medical Board and Dr. Anant S. Damle, MD conspired to destroy Dr. Vuyyuru’s professional reputation because he exposed hospital medical fraud that was causing patient deaths.
Dr. Janet Parker DVM, from Lawrence Kansas who provides advocacy for Medical Whistleblowers supports the courageous efforts of Dr. Lokesh Vuyyuru to promote public safety and honesty in medicine. The criminal corruption that led to the massive medical fraud occurring at HCA, also led to severe retaliation to the competent and honest surgeon Dr. Lokesh Vuyyuru. Efforts by the hospital to silence him included intentionally providing false testimony to the Medical Board in an effort to remove Dr. Lokesh Vuyyuru’s medical license, as well as threats to kill him and his family.
How did the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) and Community Health Systems (CHS) attempt to destroy Dr. Lokesh Vuyyuru’s medical career? The criminally corrupt large hospital corporations do not shy away from intentionally providing false testimony in order to remove medical licenses from those doctors who attempt to expose their medical fraud. The Medical Boards routinely permit perjured testimony to be presented against medical doctors and deny the essential and fundamental fairness of due process to the doctors who stand before their Medical Quality Review Boards. The Viriginia Medical Board suspended Lokesh Babu Vuyyuru, M.D.’s medical license without the medical records to prove any negligence or incompetence. In Dr. Lokesh Vuyyuru’s case this included fabricated testimony regarding the adverse medical events of several patients including:
1. Dr. Anant S. Damle, MD who acted as an expert witness had not even reviewed the medical records, and lied under oath that he had reviewed the medical records of Dr. Vuyyuru’s case even though he had not. Dr. Anant S. Damle was not even qualified to act as expert witness in the subject matter before the Medical Board.
2. The Medical Board accused Dr. Vuyyuru of the death of patient when he was not the clinical doctor treating the patient and had no involvement in the clinical care of the patient at the time of the patient’s death.
3. The hospital provided false testimony regarding DEA and controlled substances and their use in another clinical case. (This testimony is clearly false because of the uncontroversial truth of the DEA log).
4. The hospital exaggerated and falsified medical records presented to the Medical Board.
5. The hospital staff deliberately tampered with the emergency crash cart so as to endanger one of Dr. Lokesh Vuyyuru’s patients. (Dr. Vuyyuru through heroic efforts saved the patient’s life and preserved her quality of life in spite of this deliberate sabotage of the patient’s care).
Evidence is that area of justice which comes closest to connecting fairness in procedure with fairness in outcome. The most basic rule of evidence is that the State bears the burden of proving guilt and that the accused doctor enjoys a presumption of innocence. But when Medical Boards are swayed by economic and political considerations to ignore the truth and railroad doctors to the removal of their licenses based on perjured false testimony, we do not have safety for any medical patient. Everyone, regardless of income, social status, or rank will someday be a vulnerable patient. You will all become a vulnerable patient needing medical care at some time in your life. This is as inevitable as death and taxes. Would you want a criminal tampering with a crash cart if your own life or the life of your loved one depended on it? Do you want your health care tax dollar going into the pockets of greedy hospital entrepreneurs who do not care about the quality of patient care or the public health? I think not. We all need to support the Medical Whistleblowers like Dr. Lokesh Vuyyuru. Dr. Vuyyuru is a dedicated patient advocate and has through his own efforts publicized the need for action in the furtherance of quality patient care in Virginia.
The pathway taken by Medical Whistleblowers quickly weeds out those who do not have strength of character and steadfastness of moral values. In many of these cases of retaliation against a medical professional who provided testimony to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, witnesses are so intimidated that they refuse to testify or even alter their testimony. Only the most courageous and those with moral conviction continue under such adverse circumstances to provide witness testimony to the FBI about hospital medical fraud.
It is a sad fact that our medical system in the United States is now seriously compromised by criminal corruption of the hospital systems and the lack of governmental enforcement of regulatory laws and civil rights. Governmental agencies often refuse to investigate or prosecute medical fraud, abuse, neglect and even human rights violations of patients. This kind of white collar fraud is not a victimless crime – instead its victims are vulnerable patients, often those who are least able to get legal or financial help. When hospitals view Medicaid and Medicare patients as merely a means to make profit, our medical system is no longer capable of providing for the public’s health. It is crucially important that medical professionals be able to provide accurate and timely information about criminal behavior and unethical hospital practices to Federal and State Agencies.
Dr. Lokesh Vuyyuru has proven that he has that kind of courage and vision for the state of Virginia. Therefore I encourage all Virginia voters to encourage Dr. Lokesh Vuyyuru to run for the governor’s office in Virginia. We need men of good moral character and exceptional leadership, such as Dr. Lokesh Vuyyuru, to lead us to a better system of government for all Virginia citizens.