Former cardiologist resurrects malpractice claims against Northwestern hospital

CHICAGO -- A former Northwestern cardiologist now working in private practice is again alleging medical malpractice at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, but the university says the claims of wrongdoing are false.

Hospital and university officials are very clear, saying these claims are simply false, as shown by a jury verdict that sided with them.

However, a former Northwestern doctor is reviving the claims on behalf of patients she says were wronged.

More than a decade after having open heart surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, 61-year-old Maureen Obermeier says she’s still feeling the effects of what she believes was a case of medical malpractice.

“I am not nearly the person I used to be," Obermeier said. “I get so tired that I almost can’t think clearly.”

She claims that Dr. Patrick McCarthy, Northwestern’s Chief of Cardiac Surgery, inserted an “investigational” or experimental device into her heart without her consent, which she alleges caused her to have a heart attack during the surgery.

“Dr. McCarthy never told me anything went wrong, he never had me sign any informed consent, nor did he mention in the pre-surgical meeting that he would be using any kind of experimental device, much less one that he invented himself,” Obermeier said.

The hospital and McCarthy denied any wrongdoing, and in 2016 a Cook County jury sided with them, taking less than an hour to return a verdict saying the evidence was  “overwhelming” that the device was not experimental.

McCarthy’s former Northwestern colleague, cardiologist Dr. Nalini Rajamannan, resurrected the claims Monday, filing a complaint with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

"Today I filed a complaint on behalf of the 667 patients who received experimental heart valves at Northwestern Memorial Hospital," Dr. Rajamannan said Monday. "There’s been violations in the accreditation standards that are set for the United States of America."

The university and the hospital believe Dr. Rajamannan is making false claims, and a spokesman responded:

“This complaint has no merit. The person who is making this complaint has done so in different places for nearly 10 years and no regulatory body or court has agreed with her claims. As other regulatory bodies and a cook county jury have previously found, these claims have no basis in fact.”

Northwestern University and Northwestern Memorial Hospital consider this matter to be over, as there are no open investigations into this situation. The accreditation body received the complaint, but is not investigating it as of now.