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Group Seeks Review of Brotman Medical Center : Health: Accreditation study is urged after settlement of lawsuit charging that facility allowed white physicians to harm the practice of a black cardiologist.

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

A local civil rights group called Tuesday for an accreditation review of Brotman Medical Center in Culver City after it settled an 8-year-old lawsuit for $1.75 million that accused the hospital of allowing a powerful group of white physicians to all but destroy the practice of an African-American cardiologist.

The suit accused the white physician of being motivated by racism and fear of competition.

Sandra Evers-Manly, president of the Hollywood/Beverly Hills branch of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, said at a news conference that the settlement is a only partial victory because some of the doctors who “prosecuted and persecuted” Dr. Donald Ware over a three-year period ending in 1988 still hold positions of power at Brotman.

Others at the news conference, including Ware and the Rev. E. V. Hill, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church and an adviser to Mayor Richard Riordan, said a significant portion of the patient load at Brotman is black, far more than the proportion of black physicians.

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According to Manly, the NAACP has asked for the accreditation review of Brotman from the Illinois-based Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, which establishes standards for health facilities and conducts accreditation programs. A representative could not be reached for comment.

Kelly Baldwin, spokeswoman for Brotman, said the medical center has changed ownership “several times” since Ware’s troubles began in 1985 and that she would have no comment on the lawsuit settlement or the request for the accreditation review.

Dr. Patricia Chase, chief medical consultant for licensing for the state Department of Health Services, said that of the 600 hospitals in California, only about 30 are not accredited by the Joint Commission, all of them small, rural facilities.

Ware, now 44, began his practice at Brotman after graduating from UC San Francisco Medical School and spending time as a Harvard University public health fellow. He said he quickly became the third busiest cardiologist at the hospital.

Eight white doctors who were members of the same medical group, Cardiovascular Medical Group of Southern California, jealous of his success and partially motivated by racism did everything they could to destroy his reputation, the suit contended.

False charges of incompetence were trumped up, notices were placed on bulletin boards that implied that his medical expertise was suspect and eventually, his medical decisions were being policed by nurses, Ware’s suit said.

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The hospital, according to the suit, eventually suspended Ware’s privileges without allowing him to formally answer the accusations, making it impossible for him to get referrals or have other hospitals extend him staff privileges.

He got his job back five years ago after an independent panel of doctors and a state investigative agency could find nothing wrong with his work, Ware said.

A jury in June awarded Ware $2.5 million in compensatory damages against Brotman. By then both Cardiovascular Medical Group of Southern California and the eight doctors named as plaintiffs had been dropped or removed from the suit.

A jury is scheduled to begin next month to determine if punitive damages are warranted.

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