Serving the High Plains

Surgeon's privileges suspended

Tucumcari remains without a general surgeon as Dr. Sitarama Krishna Kothalanka's surgical and partitioning privileges at Dan C. Trigg Memorial hospital are suspended, said Dr. David Arredondo, executive medical director for Presbyterian Medical Group.

Arredondo said Kothalanka's privileges at Trigg were first suspended in February, though at this time he cannot go into detail regarding the suspension. He said in general, a doctor could have their privileges suspended when there are concerns about the quality of his care or lapse in certification/licensing or they have professional behavioral issues.

Arredondo said when a doctor's privileges are suspended, there is panel which reviews any complaints or concerns regarding the doctors practices. He said a decision to revoke or suspend privileges is never made lightly.

"The panel would have to believe there is sufficient concern to warrant a suspension of privileges," Arredondo said.

Arredondo said Kothalanka was credentialed in May of 2011 to be a provider at Trigg. He said Kothalanka was an independent physician and not employed by the hospital.

Arredondo said many hospitals have open staff models where a qualified physician can apply to work at that facility. He said those doctors could admit patients, see patients and practice at the hospital while maintaining their independent practices.

Arredondo said while doctors practice at Trigg, there is a peer-review process, which ensures the physicians practicing at Presbyterian hospitals are qualified. He said Presbyterian Medical Group also has an extensive credentialing process to ensure that doctors practicing at any of Presbyterian's hospitals are qualified.

"It was determined at the time Kothalanka went through that extensive process he met all the necessary criteria," Arredondo said.

Arredondo said since Kothalanka's suspension there has been no general surgeon available at Trigg. He said Kothalanka was the only general surgeon available.

Arredondo said he could not comment on Kothalanka's workload while he worked at Trigg. However, he said when a single surgeon serves an entire community and region it can be stressful.

Arredondo said the final decision to strip Kothalanka' of his privileges, will be made by the governing board of Dan C. Trigg Memorial Hospital.

"At this time there is no time line to when that decision will be made," Arredondo said.

Kothalanka could not be reached immediately for comment.