HARRISBURG – The state Superior Court has upheld a Somerset County order granting summary judgment in favor of Somerset Hospital in an appeal filed by a surgeon who allegedly performed two procedures at the hospital without permission.
According to the Superior Court’s Dec. 6 opinion, general surgeon Victor F. Novak II "did not have hospital privileges to implant or change (implantable cardioverter defibrillator generators).”
The court said Novak practiced as a general surgeon at Somerset Hospital from 1995 to 2005, but he agreed to replace ICD generators in two patients at the hospital in 2005 after he no longer had privileges to practice there.
Following a task force investigation of the “circumstances surrounding the surgeries,” which resulted in no initial disciplinary action against Novak, the Superior Court said hearings were held by Somerset’s medical executive committee, and the hospital’s board of directors “ultimately revoked Dr. Novak’s clinical privileges and staff appointments.”
According to the opinion, Novak argued on appeal that “he provided sufficient evidence showing he was deprived of prospective contracts and future earnings” and that the board’s actions in leading to the decision to revoke his privileges did not constitute a professional review action under the Healthcare Quality Improvement Act (HCQIA).
The Superior Court said the first claim was “meritless,” as “Novak concedes that he had no existing contractual relationships that were interfered with by the revocation of his admission privileges at Somerset Hospital.”
In addition, the Superior Court disagreed with Novak’s professional review argument.
“While Dr. Novak’s surgery did not result in the injury of any patients, Somerset had not granted him privileges to perform these surgeries,” the opinion said. “Therefore, these surgeries were unprofessional conduct that could have resulted in injury; thus, the action taken against Dr. Novak constituted a professional review action.”