Oncologist doubts credibility of lawsuit's certificate of merit

Steve Gonzalez Oct. 1, 2008, 9:55am

Oncologist Thomas Ryan, M.D. wants a wrongful death complaint filed against him in Madison County dismissed over objections to the lawsuit's certificate of merit.

Ryan claims that the lawsuit filed by the estate of a man who fell while going to the bathroom at the hospital -- suffered a head injury and later died -- does not contain a certificate of merit filed by a health professional licensed in his field.

The suit filed May 22 by the estate of Lawrence Noascono also names Saint Anthony's Health Center and Salvador Lobianco, M.D. as defendants.

According to the complaint, Noascono was admitted to Saint Anthony's on May 17, 2006, by Dr. Ryan for lung cancer treatment.

Noascono's injury occurred on May 23, 2006, the suit claims.

Ryan argues that Noascono's estate filed a certificate of merit signed by Dr. John A. Petrovich, a board certified general surgeon, not an oncologist like himself.

Represented by Ransom Wuller of Belleville, Ryan argues Petrovich's experience in general surgery does not qualify him to give an opinion as to the standard of care which applies to an oncologist.

In addition, Ryan argues that Petrovich has not practiced medicine since 2004 and the current status of his medical license is that he is on probation.

Petrovich pleaded guilty to felony health care fraud in July 2005. He admitted that he knowingly participated in a scheme to defraud the Illinois Medicaid program, and that his scheme was in connection with the delivery of or payment for health care benefits, items, or services, namely prescription drugs.

He was sentenced to five years probation and fined $5,100. He was also ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution to the state of Illinois.

Ryan argues that Petrovich is not qualified to render an opinion as to the care and treatment of an oncologist.

"Because the physician's certificate attached to plaintiff's complaint is not sufficient, this case must be dismissed," the motion states.

Noascono's estate alleges the doctors failed to order appropriate nursing care to prevent him from walking to the bathroom unassisted, failed to assess his ability to ambulate safely, failed to order proper restrictions and failed to alert the nurses that he was in no condition to walk alone.

The estate claims that Noascono suffered conscious pain and suffering prior to his death.

His estate also claims that Noascono's next-of-kin suffered pecuniary losses including medical and funeral expenses.

Noascono's estate, which is seeking damages in excess of $200,000, is represented by Thomas Falb of Alton.

Matoesian has yet to set a date to hear the motion.

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