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08/19/94 INNO U. OBASI v. DEPARTMENT PROFESSIONAL

August 19, 1994

INNO U. OBASI, M.D., PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THE DEPARTMENT OF PROFESSIONAL REGULATION OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS AND KEVIN WRIGHT, DIRECTOR, ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PROFESSIONAL REGULATION, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. HONORABLE LESTER FOREMAN, Judge Presiding.

As Corrected October 6, 1994. Released for Publication October 14, 1994.

Gordon, McNULTY, Cousins, Jr.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gordon

JUSTICE GORDON delivered the opinion of the court:

This administrative review action was brought by the Plaintiff, Inno U. Obasi, M.D., against the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation (the Department) and its Director to contest the revocation of the Plaintiff's medical license, without opportunity to apply for reinstatement for five years. The circuit court affirmed the revocation and the Plaintiff appealed.

The issues presented for review are: whether the trial court applied the correct review standards when it affirmed the Department's findings and Conclusions; whether the Plaintiff's due process rights were violated when television cameras were permitted at the hearing; whether the Medical Practice Act of 1987 (the Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 111, par. 4400-1 et seq.; now codified at 225 ILCS 60/1 et seq. (West 1992)) was unconstitutional because it violated the separation of powers doctrine; and whether the sanction imposed on the plaintiff should have been reduced by the trial court because it was overly harsh.

BACKGROUND

The Department Director summarily suspended the Plaintiff's medical license on October 25, 1989 and charged in a five-count complaint that the Plaintiff had violated various provisions of the Medical Practice Act of 1987. The first two counts of the complaint alleged that on June 6, 1989 the Plaintiff, a licensed physician and surgeon performed a pregnancy termination procedure, a dilatation and evacuation, on Krystal S. and perforated her uterus during the procedure. The charges stated that the Plaintiff had failed to provide post-operative care and monitoring and that his actions constituted patient abandonment and gross negligence in violation of sections 22(16) and 22(4) of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 111, pars. 4400-22(16), 4400-22(4); now codified at 225 ILCS 60/22(16), 60/22(4) (West 1992)).

The third count of the complaint alleged that the Plaintiff violated section 22(4) of the Act and committed gross negligence on September 7, 1989 when he performed a dilatation and curettage and tubal ligation on Synthia D. According to the allegations, the Plaintiff failed to differentiate between the fallopian tube and the uterine vein, or artery, or their branches; severed the vein, artery or branch and failed to repair it; and carelessly, negligently, and/or recklessly cared for and treated Synthia D. who, as a direct andproximate result of these acts, died. The fourth count of the complaint alleged that the Plaintiff committed a third act of gross negligence on September 21, 1989 when he performed a pregnancy termination procedure, a dilatation and evacuation, on Michelle P. During this procedure, the patient's uterus was perforated requiring emergency surgery and a total abdominal hysterectomy. The final count of the complaint incorporated counts one, three and four and alleged that the acts recited constituted a pattern of practice which demonstrated incapacity or incompetence to practice medicine in violation of section 22(26) of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 111, par. 4400-22(26); now codified at 225 ILCS 60/22(26) (West 1992)).

On April 10, 1990, following a hearing before the Illinois State Medical Disciplinary Board, the hearing officer concluded that the Department had proved by clear and convincing evidence the charges in count I (patient abandonment), count III (gross negligence) and count V (pattern of practice demonstrating incompetence to practice). The hearing officer recommended revocation of the Plaintiff's medical license; and the Medical Disciplinary Board adopted the report and recommendations of the hearing officer. The Board recommended to the Department Director that the Plaintiff not petition for restoration of his license for a minimum period of five years and that the plaintiff complete two hundred fifty hours of continuing medical education and pass a clinical competency examination. The Director adopted the Board's recommendations on June 12, 1990.

The plaintiff filed a complaint for administrative review; and on February 22, 1991, at the Conclusion of the hearing, the circuit court affirmed the Plaintiff's license revocation but reduced the period of revocation to thirty months. On March 8, 1991, the court reversed its oral ruling of February 22, 1991 and found that it was without authority to lessen the sanction imposed by the Department. On June 14, 1991, pursuant to the Plaintiff's motion to reconsider, the trial court remanded the case to the Department for reconsideration of the sanction imposed finding that the sanction was excessive and oppressive. On remand, the Department adopted the Board's findings, Conclusions and recommendations; reaffirmed the five-year revocation period; and eliminated the educational and competency examination requirements. Pursuant to administrative review of that order, the circuit court affirmed the Department and subsequently denied the Plaintiff's motion to reconsider.

While a number of findings were made by the hearing officer for the Medical Disciplinary Board, those that need to be repeated in order to understand the rationale of this court concern the evidence presented on the charge of abandonment. As to this charge, the hearing officer's findings included the following:

"4. Approximately one hour after the procedure, Dr. Obasi discharged Krystal S[.] and left the facility. At the time of the discharge Krystal S[.] was exhibiting no symptoms of a perforated uterus or internal bleeding.

"5. Dr. Obasi had lunch and then went grocery shopping. While shopping he was paged on his beeper and returned to the Paulina Surgi-Center after talking to a nurse, Caroline Banjo.

"6. Dr. Obasi ordered Nurse Banjo to start an I.V. of Pitocin to help S[.]'s uterus contract and to call for an ambulance.

"7. A Chicago Fire Department ambulance arrived and transported Krystal S[.] to St. Francis Hospital. Dr. Obasi did not accompany the patient to St. Francis Hospital.

"8. Dr. Obasi did not have any staff privileges at St. ...


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