- The Washington Times - Monday, December 20, 2004

George Washington University Hospital has revoked the admitting privileges of a prominent surgeon who has testified under oath that he had tried to ignite a surgical-preparation solution on unwitting patients.

“We’ve received a complaint, and we’ve taken appropriate action, so at this time he cannot operate at this hospital,” hospital spokeswoman Maureen Ryan said yesterday.

The Washington Times reported last week that Dr. Willie C. Blair, president of medical staff at Prince George’s Hospital Center, testified in a sworn deposition for a lawsuit that he had tried to “set people on fire” to see if a surgical solution would ignite.

The lawsuit involved a woman who had been burned in an operating-room accident at the Washington Hospital Center. Dr. Blair, who does not work at Washington Hospital Center and was not involved in the accident, testified as an expert witness on behalf of the hospital.

Ms. Ryan yesterday said Dr. Blair had “courtesy” admitting privileges at George Washington Hospital. Courtesy privileges are extended to physicians who are not members of the medical staff but practice at the hospital on an occasional basis.

She said Dr. Blair had not performed any procedures at the hospital in the past 3 years.

Dr. Blair performs the bulk of his surgeries at Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly, Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham and Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.

Thomas Singleton, president of Tennessee-based Cambio Health Solutions, a turnaround firm temporarily overseeing Prince George’s Hospital Center, said yesterday that he had no comment on the matter.

Last week, Prince George’s hospital officials notified the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations about Dr. Blair’s deposition.

The Joint Commission, the nation’s largest health care accreditation group, received the notification and is investigating, a commission spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, officials at Suburban and Prince George’s hospitals have defended Dr. Blair, saying they have spoken with the surgeon and do not believe he experimented on patients.

Doctors Community Hospital officials did not return calls seeking comment yesterday.

According to Dr. Blair’s deposition, he outlined a series of experiments he said he conducted on at least four patients.

“I’ve been trying to set people on fire for the last three months and can’t do it,” Dr. Blair testified. “I mean, I put the prep on and wait, and put the prep on and go early; do a lot of using the Bovie [an electro-surgical device], but I haven’t been able to ignite anybody.”

Asked about the deposition last week, Dr. Blair said he never conducted the experiments, calling the idea “irresponsible” and “crazy.”

He said he was trying to make a point to lawyers in the deposition room that “I couldn’t get this stuff to burn.”

However, Dr. Blair said he did try to ignite a preparatory solution in an experiment that did not involve a patient.

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