A total of four people were transferred from Highland Medical Center to University Medical Center last week -- one of them died on Thursday. The Houston based doctor who performed the surgery has resigned from Highland.
Dr. Ramesh Srungaram, a former Houston vascular surgeon turned bariatric surgeon, came to Lubbock to fill in for Dr. David Hall on July 5th, 2002. Dr. Hall is the primary bariatric surgeon for Highland Medical Center. Dr. Srungaram says that bariatric surgery is a risky procedure that should only be performed on people who are morbidly overweight. He says that is a criteria insurance companies and doctors must go by. "They would be morbidly obese, in other words, 100 pounds over their ideal weight," said Dr. Srungaram over the phone on Friday.
In a lawsuit filed at the Lubbock County Courthouse in December of 2000, one patient who received bariatric surgery at Highland Medical Center was 5' 6" tall and fluctuated between 185 and 210 pounds. She was told by Dr. David Hall that she was a candidate for the surgery.
According to the Home Journal Library Index, a 5' 6" woman's ideal weight is somewhere between 119 and 154 pounds. The woman who filed the suit was at most 56 pounds overweight and not more than 100 pounds overweight, which is the requirement for bariatric surgery by doctors and insurance companies.
In a court record, Highland Medical Center denies allegations made by the woman. Court records show that Highland Medical Center has taken that case to the court of appeals in Amarillo.
Meanwhile, Dr. Srungaram says he has performed 25 surgeries since he has been in Lubbock. He resigned on July 28th, and the Texas Board of Medical Examiners in Austin is investigating the recent death.