A Mayo Clinic hospital that had a doctor charged for a routine exam on his personal cell phone could face a lawsuit over the matter, according to a federal judge.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Louisiana heard arguments Tuesday about whether the Mayo Center for Orthopedic Surgeons and Orthopedics, based in southwest Louisiana, can continue to perform its own tests, procedures and examinations on its patients without being subject to a subpoena.
The lawsuit, filed in February, alleged that Mayo failed to pay the $1.4 million fine that was imposed after the clinic’s doctors were accused of failing to follow the law and treat patients within the rules of the American College of Surgeons.
The charges were brought by the American Medical Association in an ongoing federal lawsuit against Mayo.
In a court filing, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana said the hospital violated its patient privacy by refusing to release records and files related to the medical practices of Dr. David Lutz, who was accused of not using a cell phone to record an examination.
Lutz, the group said, used his cell phone while performing an exam, a practice that is not permitted under the American Orthopedical Society of Medicine and the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeon, both of which are registered with the association.
The complaint also said Lutz was the only patient in the Mayo clinic to be charged with a crime in 2016.
In court papers, the ACLU said the charges were “unfounded and without merit” because Lutz used his phone during a routine examination, a process known as “prescription” and “pre-approval.”
The complaint said that Lutz and another doctor did not file a report to the association because they were unaware of the violation and that the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) did not respond to the complaint until March.
In addition, the complaint said Mayo did not inform patients about Lutz’s criminal history until the AOA responded to the ABA complaint.
The organization said that when the association learned of Lutz violating the code of ethics, it took action.
The AOA also declined to respond to a request for comment.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claimed that the Mayo-affiliated hospital failed to follow state and federal rules about how it treats patients.
The group cited a case in which two patients had to be hospitalized for weeks because of infections after doctors mistakenly believed they were receiving an anesthetic, and then mistakenly tested positive for MRSA, the bacteria that can cause infections.
In its complaint, the AOAS said the Mayo hospital also failed to properly train staff, who failed to identify patients who might have an illness and failed to check that patients’ insurance had been approved.