Mississippi medical board sues VA for radiology records

G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery Medical Center in Jackson.
G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery Medical Center in Jackson.
G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery Medical Center in Jackson.

JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — Mississippi’s state Board of Medical Licensure has sued the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs over its refusal to release the names of patients who may have suffered because of the misconduct of a former radiologist at the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery Medical Center.

The VA is apparently still fighting state efforts to get records, despite a pledge by acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson that he would look into the matter when he spoke in July at the hospital. The licensure board says it needs the names to obtain patient records and complete its investigation into Dr. Majid A. Khan. The board could restrict, suspend or revoke his medical license.

A spokeswoman for the Jackson VA hospital did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Another radiologist who won a discrimination suit against the VA claims Khan didn’t properly read images and that some patients may have died as a result. Multiple VA reviews have absolved Khan of wrongdoing, noting that all radiologists sometimes miss abnormalities. That didn’t satisfy Dr. Charles Sherwood, former chief of ophthalmology at the hospital, who complained to medical licensure board and the VA’s Office of Special Counsel.

The suit was filed July 29 in Hinds County Chancery Court. The Department of Veterans Affairs filed to move it into U.S. District Court in Jackson on Aug. 29, saying it’s a federal matter because it seeks to force action by a federal officer.

Khan worked at the hospital from 2003 to 2008. Today, he is the chief of the division of neuroradiology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. UMMC spokeswoman Ruth Cummins wrote in an email that Khan “was subject to the same recruiting procedures as other faculty hired at that time, including reference checks.”

The board cites state law allowing it to subpoena medical records. In this case, it’s seeking an unredacted copy of an exhibit filed in a 2010 federal court case where three female radiologists sued the federal agency, saying the hospital’s then-chief of radiology, Dr. Vipin Patel, discriminated against them and favored Khan.

The women jointly won a jury verdict of more than $183,000 in back pay. One of the women, Dr. Margaret Hatten, submitted into evidence her notes claiming Khan wasn’t reading all the X-rays, CT scans MRIs and other images that he claimed to read. Khan was paid in part based on how many images he read.

The names of the 58 patients in Hatten’s notes were blacked out in the court exhibit, and the state board wants an unredacted version.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has said it needs a court order, not a subpoena, to disclose records. The hospital did provide the board a report of a 2011 legal settlement of $87,500 paid to the survivors of Charles T. Smith, who sued after Smith died from colon and liver cancer in June 2007. Khan failed to diagnose the cancer in March 2006.