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Hopkins had good reason to settle Levy claims [Letter]

Sexual abuse by a doctor is medical malpractice. The abuse took place while Dr. Nikita Levy was an employee of Johns Hopkins, working at a Johns Hopkins facility, where he was not adequately supervised ("Why is Hopkins liable in the Levy case?" Sept. 30). For example, he performed thousands of pelvic exams with no chaperon present — a violation of standard medical practice. Did his staff not notice?

The women's claims were not handled as individual malpractice lawsuits but as a class action, which saved the hospital years of costly litigation and embarrassment. Ultimately, the hospital settled for the amount of its insurance coverage, $190 million.

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If the cases had gone to trial, Johns Hopkins officials would have had to answer specific questions, such as, 1) what did they know about Dr. Levy and when did they know it? 2) Did they have reports complaining about Dr. Levy's conduct, and what became of those reports? 3) How many other doctors or nurses knew or had suspicions about Dr. Levy? Did they complain? Were those complaints ignored? 4) Why did the hospital not have quality control procedures in place that would have discovered Dr. Levy's violations of standard medical practice years earlier?

In the end, the hospital and its lawyers weighed the risk of 8,000-plus monumental jury awards and damage to the hospital's reputation against the amount of insurance coverage the hospital carried and determined $190 million was a fair settlement.

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Teresa Kelly

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To respond to this letter, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

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