An anesthesiologist involved in two tragic medical malpractice cases has been put on five years' probation by the state Board of Medical Quality Assurance.
Margarita Keusayan of Long Beach has voluntarily decided to discontinue practicing as an anesthesiologist, state Deputy Atty. Gen. Anne Mendoza said. As a condition of probation that began Dec. 27, she also was required to pass a physician's retraining program, which she has recently completed, Mendoza said. Keusayan plans to pursue a career in general medicine, Mendoza said.
Keusayan's lawyer, Robert Ganf, could not be reached for comment and did not return phone calls from The Times.
In an August, 1980, operation at Downey Community Hospital, David Berg of Downey was left with severe brain damage after he was deprived of oxygen for approximately 20 minutes. Berg, 22, was being operated on for minor groin surgery. In 1985, he, his family and lawyer were paid $5.1 million in an out-of-court settlement from the hospital, Keusayan and two other doctors, and the manufacturers of an anesthesia machine. Berg's lawyer, Richard Aldrich of Sherman Oaks, said that Keusayan had mistakenly put an anesthesia tube too far down Berg's trachea so that it blocked passages to the lungs.
In March, 1982, a second patient of Keusayan's, Albert Valasquez, 49, of Paramount died of asphyxia at Charter Suburban Hospital in Paramount after an anesthesia tube was mistakenly placed in his esophagus instead of his trachea. In an out-of-court settlement, the hospital, Keusayan and two other doctors paid $850,000 to Valasquez's family.
Berg's father, Byron, said in an interview that the agreement concerning Keusayan's license is "criminal. It's just inexcusable that someone like that should continue practicing."