Iowa’s licensing board deems surgeon incompetent immediately after a patient’s suit is tossed.
Dr. Eromosele Otoadese, a 68-year-old physician who practices vascular medicine in Waterloo, Iowa, is under investigation by the state licensing board after he has been twice accused of incompetence. Now the medical board is being subjected to its own critique of its investigative process. The main issue is that patients who file lawsuits against physicians claiming incompetence are not made privy as to whether the doctor is already the subject of an ethics probe. Moreover, if the medical board takes any action, it could take up to a decade. In many cases, it only discloses concerns after it has reached a settlement with the subject of interest.
In Oteoadese’s case, back in 2016, William McGrew of Waterloo filed suit against Otoadese and the Northern Iowa Cardiovacular and Thoracic Surgery Clinic, alleging that, in September 2014, Otoadese “improperly performed a carotid endarterectomy, leaving him with facial droop and weakness on his left side, which indicated he had suffered a stroke,” according to court documents. Two other physicians said that the initial operation and, later, an attempt to correct the damage, was “not warranted,” the lawsuit stated.
Despite the evidence presented, however, McGrew lost at trial. Then, just five weeks later, the board publicly accused the doctor of incompetence for the past ten years even though the surgeon’s attorneys claimed he hadn’t ever been the subject of a probe by Iowa’s Board of Medicine. The board concluded, “Otoadese performed a carotid endarterectomy – a surgical procedure to remove a build-up of fatty deposits in an artery – without properly monitoring the patient for electrical activity in the brain,” according to documents.
As part of the April 2019 settlement, the Board of Medicine said the surgeon “failed to provide appropriate medical care to five unspecified Waterloo patients between 2009 and 2014.” Otoadese was issued a citation and warning and ordered to pay a $5,000 civil penalty. He was also ordered to complete a mandatory clinical competency evaluation and was placed probation for three years.
Public records indicate that in 2012, Otoadese was terminated from Cedar Valley Medical Specialists, and in 2013, Otoadese opened Northern Iowa Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery Clinic. McGrew’s attorneys sought a new trial based on the disclosure of the information included in the board’s review.
District Court Judge Kellyann Lekar, in denying the request, ruled, “Otoadese’s loss of privileges was not relevant to the issues to be decided by the jury in the present case and, further, even if relevant, had prejudicial effect that far exceeded any probative value that that evidence might provide.” Lekar also stated that “a pending investigation is not proof of wrongdoing” and added, “Under Iowa court rules, information about a pending investigation would not have been admissible anyway and couldn’t even be used on cross-examination to impeach Otoadese’s credibility.”
Under the terms of the new settlement, Otoadese has been issued another citation and warning and has been ordered to pay a $2,000 penalty. He has also agreed that he will no longer perform peripheral arterial procedures in Iowa. McGrew is appealing the decision in his case to the Iowa Supreme Court.