Monday, April 10, 2006

Don't want to be sued? Change your name!

A doctor accused in more than 100 medical malpractice lawsuits in West Virginia has changed his name in Dothan where he lives.
Dr. John Anderson King is now Christopher Wallace Martin after filing a petition for a name change at the Houston County Probate Office on March 14, The Dothan Eagle reported Saturday.
His address on the petition is the same address for Dothan attorney Richard Crum, who defended King in 1999 after the Jackson County Hospital in Marianna, Fla. accused him of stealing a medical logbook.
King agreed to a pretrial order dismissing the charge but requiring him to pay a fine and enroll in a supervision program, and left the hospital soon afterward.
Crum could not be reached for comment by the newspaper, which left messages at his home and office.
King's reason listed for changing his name on the petition was "identity theft by former co-worker."
King, who is licensed in 14 states - including Alabama - as an osteopathic physician, has led a career plagued with problems.
King's tenure at Putnam General Hospital in Hurricane, W.Va., lasted from December 2002 until June 2003.
The Charleston Gazette in West Virginia cited records showing King conducted more than 500 surgeries during that time, costing more than $7 million. He was suspended after a peer review of his surgeries concluded many of them were "unnecessary."
Most of the medical malpractice complainants claim chronic pain since King operated on them, according to the report. Others claim non-sterile instruments were used in the surgeries.
The Gazette also chronicled King's problems while practicing in Jasper, Ala., Oklahoma City and Marianna. He and a hospital in Jasper settled a medical malpractice suit for $550,000 in 1994 after a woman became a paraplegic following spinal anesthesia administered by King.
He and two other doctors paid a $250,000 settlement in 2000 to a man who claimed medical problems following an operation at Jackson County Hospital. In 1995, he was fired from Hillcrest Health Center in Oklahoma City.
The Alabama Board of Medical Examiners also reprimanded King on Feb. 4 of this year, assessing a fine and ordering him to take a course on medical ethics, the Eagle reported.
King has not been found to have made any false statements on his name change petition, according to Houston County Probate Judge Luke Cooley.
The probate office confirmed that King had been living at the same address for at least four weeks before applying for the name change.
He also indicated on his petition that he did not have any outstanding judgments against him and had not been convicted of a felony. He indicated he was involved in pending litigation in West Virginia relative to former employment there.
Cooley said there is no requirement to do background checks on people who request name changes.