Anesthesiologist Allegedly Participated in Surgical Procedures While High
Jose A. Ramos, an anesthesiologist at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, stands accused of stealing narcotics and participating in medical procedures despite being high. The 51-year-old Ramos was arrested in Fort Wayne yesterday by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). He was released on bond later in the day after a circuit court judge ruled he could not engage in any kind of medical practice if released.
Ten charges were filed against Ramos, who has been the subject of an eight-month long investigation that began after the director of pharmacy services at IU Health Ball Memorial raised concerns in early October. Ramos has not worked at the hospital during the investigative period, having taken a leave of absence to enter into a physician addiction treatment program. The charges against Ramos include:
- Four felony counts of possession of a narcotic drug;
- Four misdemeanor counts of theft;
- Two counts of criminal recklessness.
The director of pharmacy services reached out to the DEA when records from multiple surgical cases in which Ramos received controlled substances that were not subsequently recorded as having been provided or administered to patients. The drugs were also not returned or recorded as discarded.
Stolen Drugs Include Familiar Suspects
The investigation unearthed numerous instances of nursing staff becoming concerned about Ramos’s actions and behaviors, both at Ball Memorial and at the Ball Outpatient Surgery Center. Shift coordinators were burdened with keeping an eye on the anesthesiologist on top of their already extensive duties.
Nurses observed unusual behaviors leading up to the October 6th report by the director of pharmacy services, including:
- Going to the restroom after each patient was seen;
- Avoiding eye contact and appearing drugged or high;
- Seeming drowsy and failing to answer questions or provide reports about patients.
In a particularly disturbing incident, a hypodermic needle cap and blood were found in a bathroom only accessible to operating room staff. This occurred on a day Ramos administered anesthesia for seven medical procedures. An affidavit reports the allegedly stolen drugs include Fentanyl, Ketamine, Midazolam, Demerol, Morphine, and Hydromorphine.
When the medical director of the hospital’s anesthesiology division requested Ramos submit to drug screening, Ramos admitted “an addiction to pharmaceutical controlled substances.”
Former Patients May Still Be Unaware of Allegations
While two patients have been identified as having been treated by Ramos while he was under the influence, it is difficult to ascertain how many patients underwent medical procedures at the hands of an impaired anesthesiologist. As of Wednesday, prosecutors did not think the two identified patients had been notified. Countless others are likely finding out this information via news outlets.
When we go to doctors, we expect to be able to trust them. When this trust is broken, patients can be left incredibly vulnerable and may find themselves injured by those who were supposed to heal them. If you believe you or a loved one was injured by Dr. Ramos or any other physician or medical staff member who may have been impaired, the medical malpractice attorneys at Wagner Reese can help. Call us today at (888) 204-8440 for a FREE consultation.