Children's Hospital Families Say Ohio Lawsuit Indicated Incompetency

A week after state investigators found no issues with how Children's Hospital and Medical Center operates and polices itself, local families are pointing to an Ohio lawsuit that they believe indicates otherwise.

Children's Hospital has been in the news for all the wrong reasons the last few months. Last June, the pharmacy director was fired for embezzling more than $4 million, which 6 News discovered when the attorney general went after her pharmacy license.

Last month, two doctors filed a lawsuit against the president of Children's claiming they were the subjects of retaliation after questioning the competency of another surgeon.

Then Jacob Cotter finally had his day in court. A jury ordered Cincinnati Children's Hospital to pay $2 million for injuries from what his mom described as an "unnecessary" surgery 11 years ago. "I had a right to know and other patients had a right to know that this man had resigned and was still operating," Melissa Morgan said.

That surgeon, Dr. Atiq Durrani, has since fled the United States for Pakistan.

6 News obtained part of the jury's explanation why it ruled in Jacob Cotter's favor: "Dr. Azizkhan, a member of the medical executive committee was knowledgeable of Dr. Durrani's pattern of behavior," through a doctor's letter to "Dr. Azizkhan on July 2008 noting concerns regarding aggressive indications for surgery raised by several members of the surgical community."

The jurors signed the statement.

Dr. Richard Azizkhan is currently the president and CEO of Omaha Children's but was head of surgery in Cincinnati at that time. Dr. Azizkhan, who moved from Cincinnati to take over Omaha Children's Hospital in 2015, will be named as a defendant to 528 lawsuits based on the work a doctor in Ohio.

Last month, 10 surgeons resigned and two filed a lawsuit against the CEO claiming they were the victims of retaliation by the administration after questioning the competence of another surgeon — one who was hired from Cincinnati.

After hearing of the Ohio verdict, Omaha pediatric plastic surgeon Dr. Jason Miller told 6 News, “I hope the board of directors will recognize there are some very serious issues they need to address. The children of our community deserve that."

Omaha Children's doesn't comment on litigation and the board of directors of Omaha Children's has said it stands by its CEO.

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