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DOCTOR SUES OVER LOSS OF PRIVILEGES

A local obstetrician and gynecologist is again looking to the courts for help in regaining the privilege of delivering babies and performing surgeries at area hospitals.

James A. Brinton filed a lawsuit last month in 4th District Court seeking a court order that would allow him to practice at Mountain View Hospital in Payson. According to court documents, Brinton applied to practice at the hospital in February 1993, and the application was denied in May 1995.After several earlier reprimands, Brinton's privileges at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center and Orem Community Hospital were suspended in August 1992. An independent hearing panel composed of local and outside physicians affirmed the suspension two months later.

"The panel determined he was incompetent and unqualified to practice," said Jim Gilson, an attorney for Intermountain Health Care.

In February 1993, the hospitals' board of trustees denied Brinton's appeal. A short time later, Brinton filed suit in 3rd District Court challenging the suspension. However, Judge Leslie Lewis dismissed the suit, and Brinton is now appealing to the Utah Supreme Court.

On July 14, Brinton filed suit against Mountain View Hospital and Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., claiming his application was denied without due process and without following the hospital's bylaws. He claims Mountain View based its decision in part on Utah Valley Regional Medical Center's revocation of his staff privileges.

The suit claims so-called ethical violations by Brinton were not ethical violations and are not found in the American Medical Association Code of Ethics. He claims the hospital failed to review material he submitted or investigate the allegations against him.

The suit also claims that Brinton was a victim of a "witch hunt" at Utah Valley perpetrated by a former medical director. He said the doctor was retaliating for a sanction imposed against him in 1986 by Brinton when he was chairman of a peer review committee.

Brinton says in the suit that it is vital that Mountain View approve his application because without hospital privileges it is difficult for him to practice in this area.

"Mountain View Hospital is the only remaining hospital in this area to which Dr. Brinton can make application, and Mountain View Hospital's denial of privileges makes it impossible for him to effectively practice his profession in this geographic region," the suit says.

Brinton is seeking more than $8 million in compensatory damages and more than $40 million in punitive damages. The suit also seeks a court order prohibiting Mountain View officials from reporting his denial to the Utah Medical Board and National Practitioners Databank. He wants the court to void Mountain View's denial and grant him a new hearing before an impartial panel.

In court documents, Mountain View says Brinton's application was incomplete and he failed to follow all the bylaws' requirements. In answering the complaint, the hospital also says statements made by its agents were true and based on "honestly held beliefs and supported by facts." The hospital says Brinton released it from liability when he submitted his application.

Charles Abbott, Brinton's attorney, told the Deseret News Tuesday afternoon that neither he nor his client wanted to comment on the case.

According to 4th District Court records, six malpractice lawsuits have been filed against Brinton since 1987. Two were dismissed and one is scheduled for trial later this year. The other three were settled prior to trial.