Omaha Children's Hospital president named in 528 lawsuits in Ohio

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- A lawsuit filed against Children's Hospital last week is raising red flags at an Ohio hospital — and with a Cincinnati mom — as well.

Last month, a jury in Ohio ordered Cincinnati Children's Hospital to pay $2 million for injuries to Jacob Cotter, 22, in what was described as a botched spinal surgery when he was 11 years old.

The surgery was done by Dr. Atiq Durrani, who is also facing multiple federal charges. Investigators allege he made "significant profits" for unnecessary surgeries in Ohio.

One of Dr. Durrani's bosses at Cincinnati Children's hospital was Dr. Richard Azizkhan, president of Children's Hospital in Omaha. Azizkhan will be named as a defendant to all 528 lawsuits based on the work of Dr. Durrani in Ohio.

Last week, two doctors filed a lawsuit against the president of Children's Hospital, claiming they were subjects of retaliation after questioning the competency of another surgeon. 6 News broke the story after finding out that 10 surgeons resigned from the hospital.

"Your doctors who have resigned are taking a stand and finally saying, 'No more,' " said Melissa Morgan of Cincinnati. "I wish the doctors here in Ohio would have done the same thing."

Today, Cotter needs a morphine pump 24/7 to control the pain.

"He stays at home all day, every day," his mother said. "The sweet, fun-loving kid we used to know, isn’t there anymore."

Dr. Durrani told his family Cotter needed the spinal surgery. Now, Cotter will never drive since his spine is fused from the neck down from a surgical procedure since found to have been unnecessary.

"I had a right to know — and other patients had a right to know — that this man had resigned and was still operating," Morgan said.

Families want to know why Dr. Durrani was allowed to do surgeries in Ohio even after he resigned, and whether it was a matter of profit over patients.

"When you have multiple doctors speaking out against a single doctor, there’s certainly something wrong, and we owe it to our children to do better," Morgan said.

Omaha Children's Hospital is standing behind its president, stating that the "claims will be proved to be without merit."

Morgan said she's heard it before.

"When do we decide our children are worth more than money?" she said.