Mount Kisco cardiologist Philip Totonelly Jr. is suing Putnam Hospital Center for $20 million for allegedly blocking his application for admitting privileges.
Totonelly also named Health Quest Systems, the operator of the hospital, and Dr. Lawrence Schek, arguing that they have harmed his reputation, interfered with his economic prospects and put his patients at risk.
The defendants have conspired, colluded and otherwise acted in concert to limit admission privileges, according to the complaint filed in Westchester Supreme Court, for “purposes of maintaining a monopoly on the admission of patients.”
Health Quest, which is now part of Nuvance Health, does not discuss ongoing litigation, Marcela Rojas, manager of public and community affairs, said in an email.
Totonelly has practiced at Cardiovascular and Medical Associates of the Hudson Valley in Fishkill since 2012. He is board certified in cardiovascular disease, internal medicine and forensic medicine, according to his online profile. He is an assistant professor at NYU School of Medicine. He holds a law degree from Concord School of Law, an online program, but he is not licensed as an attorney in New York.
After building up his private practice for several years, the complaint states, “it became imperative … to obtain admission privileges to offer more comprehensive care to his patients.”
He applied to Putnam Hospital Center for cardiology clinical privileges in March 2017.
The hospital noted that Totonelly had no hospital affiliation since 2012 and then asked for documentation on his hospital cases during the previous 24 months.
“Applicants have the burden of producing information deemed adequate by the hospital for a proper evaluation of current competencies and other qualifications,” Schek, vice president of medical affairs, said in a May 2017 letter.
Totonelly asked how he could satisfy the requirement when he had no admitting privileges for years.
Totonelly claims that Schek advised him to take a continuing medical education course but would not identify a specific course. Totonelly contacted three medical associations and was told, according to the complaint, that “they had never heard of such a requirement for admission privileges … and no such course existed.”
Totonelly demanded that the hospital process the application or present a clear explanation of its refusal to do so.
His application was deemed incomplete and withdrawn, a hospital official responded. He had failed to provide information about his hospital cases, and as a result he “does not meet the minimum qualifications for the requested privileges.”
Totonelly demanded a formal decision, claiming that the hospital had violated its bylaws requiring a decision in writing.
He filed a complaint with the New York State Public Health and Health Planning Council, alleging that the hospital had improperly processed his application. The council agreed, ruling in February that Totonelly had not been afforded due process.
Totonelly claims that the hospital has damaged his reputation and economic prospects by limiting his ability to provide medical care to his patients.
He alleges that the hospital intentionally failed to consult with him twice when patients of his were admitted to the emergency room complaining of chest pains. In both cases, according to the complaint, the patients received cardiac catheterization surgeries that “were completely unnecessary.”
Totonelly is asking the court the direct the hospital to grant him admission privileges and award $20 million in damages.
He is represented by Kyle A. Seiss, of Cohen, LaBarbera & Landrigan in Chester, Orange County.