In response to recent media attention, Virginia Gay Hospital has issued the following statement:
A recent press release from the Iowa Board of Medicine shared with many news outlets, including Vinton Today, indicated that orthopedic surgeon Dr. Margaret Fehrle will be investigated for the care she provided to 18 patients. Two of those patients were Vinton residents. We are most concerned about our patients who may now be questioning the quality of care they received, and with patients foremost in mind, we feel compelled to address this issue.
The Virginia Gay medical community reviewed these adverse outcomes in a special interdisciplinary meeting of our medical staff. Present at the meeting were the physicians, representatives of nursing staff and therapy services, our safety director, and administration. We concluded that the orthopedic surgery program remained a safe and effective program for our patients.
Dr. Fehrle’s attorney has answered the allegations with this message:
“We are disappointed the Iowa Board of Medicine chose to file charges against Dr. Fehrle. Unfortunately, the mere fact charges have been filed against her tarnishes her reputation. Dr. Fehrle was not given ample time to complete a defense to the allegations before charges were filed. The Iowa Board of Medicine did not obtain Dr. Fehrle’s office records in order to ensure they had all the facts, but it appears that 2 of the cases cited were conducted in Vinton. We are aware of evidence that disproves some of the charges based on a preliminary review completed to date. She has a busy practice based on referrals provided by the physicians who know her best. The reality is that Dr. Fehrle is a well-respected orthopedic surgeon.”
We cannot ignore these allegations and the uncomfortable position it causes for patients and clinic providers. With these circumstances in mind, and in consultation with Dr. Fehrle, she will be on administrative leave until resolution of these issues. After conclusions are reached based on all the facts, we will make a decision about the future relationship with Dr. Fehrle.
Denise Evans, our Assistant Director of Nursing and Operating Room Supervisor, is in the process of contacting Dr. Fehrle’s current patients to share that the doctor welcomes them to follow up with her at the Marshalltown Clinic. If they are not inclined to continue care in Marshalltown, they will be directed back to their primary care provider for a referral to another orthopedic surgeon.
Every physician and medical provider lives with the knowledge that even the best of intentions and the highest level of skill can result in adverse outcomes; medicine is not without risk or error. They also live with the knowledge that their decisions will constantly be reviewed and questioned as part of our shared commitment to patient safety and quality of care. Their willingness to do what they believe best for patients, despite the risks to their livelihood and reputation is a calling well beyond what most of us will ever experience. It is with these realities in mind that we hope patients will avoid jumping to any conclusion before the allegations can be thoroughly and professionally reviewed.