Waldman issued state sanctions

Dr. Michael Waldman, a radiologist formerly practicing at New Milford Hospital, was sanctioned Tuesday by the state Medical Examining Board.

Dr. Waldman's license to practice as a physician and surgeon in Connecticut had a reprimand placed on it and he was placed on probation for a year beginning May 1.

His work must be monitored by a licensed radiologist for that year, at Dr. Waldman's expense.

The decision was what one doctor on the board called "a slap on the wrist."

Dr. Waldman was investigated by the state Department of Public Health for an April 26, 2010 incident in which, medical examiners determined, he perforated a patient's spleen during a radiological procedure at New Milford Hospital.

The patient, Tom D'Amato, 74, of New Milford, died at Danbury Hospital three days after the procedure. He had been transferred to Danbury after returning to New Milford Hospital six hours after the procedure with complications, state documents read.

Medical examiners found Dr. Waldman "recognized that he had perforated the spleen," but still sent the patient home without informing him of what happened and did not undertake proper monitoring of the patient, according to Department of Public Health documents.

The medical examining board found Dr. Waldman "acted incompetently, and negligently in the practice of medicine, and that he violated the standard of care."

Board discussion Tuesday revealed the fact of Mr. D'Amato's death was not taken into consideration by the board in reaching its decision.

The reprimand decision was based on Dr. Waldman's "failure to meet the standard of care" in his follow-up in monitoring Mr. D'Amato immediately following the procedure.

"What brought us to reach our decision was that there was no clear connection to what Dr. Waldman did or didn't do and what ultimately happened to the patient," said Dr. David Goldenberg, a board member who chaired the panel that heard testimony in Dr. Waldman's case.

"Dr. Waldman realized what his failure was and how the system in place at New Milford Hospital broke down and he took responsibility for the breakdown," Dr. Goldenberg said. "There was not an adequate patient monitoring protocol in place at the hospital. What happened was a system failure."

Board member Dr. C. Steven Wolf wanted Dr. Waldman's license suspended for one to two months along with the other sanctions outlined in the Memorandum of Decision. He also wanted a monetary fine imposed.

"My apologies to the patient's family," Dr. Wolf said. "Personally, I believe there should be a suspension and fine. There was a serious moral failure here."

Fellow board member Edward McAnaney agreed. His and Dr. Wolf's were the two dissenting votes on the board in accepting the Memorandum of Decision as outlined.

Seven other members present Tuesday voted to approve the decision. The board has 14 members.

Neither Dr. Waldman nor his attorney, Jack Garamella, were present Tuesday for the board decision. Mr. Garamella had sent word he and his client had no objection to the decision as drafted.

Mr. Garamella said by phone later that, "of course," Dr. Waldman feels remorse for what happened.

"There was a complete review of protocols at the hospital and the protocols have changed," Mr. Garamella said.

Dr. Waldman "is now following those protocols" when he practices, the attorney said.

Dr. Waldman, who lives in Brookfield, is unemployed at this time, his attorney confirmed.

He resigned from the hospital and from Northeast Radiology in Brookfield in mid-February, a hospital official said last month.

Mr. D'Amato's widow, Diane D'Amato, did not attend Tuesday's proceedings.

In March, when the draft Memorandum of Decision had been reviewed, she said, "Of course I think the penalty should be stiffer."

"I don't think at this point Dr. Waldman should lose his license... but I do believe the puncturing of his spleen caused my husband's death," Mrs. D'Amato said.

She is pursuing a medical malpractice suit.

Deborah Weymouth, executive director of New Milford Hospital and senior vice president of Western Connecticut Health Network, was not available for comment.

Linda Wiseman, marketing manager for Western Connecticut Health Network, spoke on behalf of Ms. Weymouth.

"I can confirm that Dr. Waldman is no long a member of the medical staff," Ms. Wiseman said.

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322

"I don't think at this point Dr. Waldman should lose his license... but I do believe the puncturing of his spleen caused my husband's death."

Diane D'Amato

Widow of Tom D'Amato, who died in April 2010