OB-GYN ACCUSED OF USING WRONG SPERM—HIS

In a story that no doubt will be “ripped from the headlines” by Law and Order, a Greenwich obstetrician-gynecologist has been practicing medicine for the last seven years while his patients have been oblivious to the fact that he was accused in a 2005 medical malpractice lawsuit of using his own sperm instead of that of a patient’s husband.

The Greenwich Time this week detailed the case of Dr. Ben Ramaley who was sued by a couple after their twin girls underwent a paternity test that showed the husband was not the biological father. The interracial couple has the test done because the girls had extremely fair complexions and elicited questions about whether they were adopted.

According to the newspaper report, the lawsuit alleged, “Upon information and belief, Dr. Roe [Ramaley] intentionally inserted his own sperm into (the patient), causing (the patient) to become pregnant and give birth to children biologically fathered by Dr. Roe…Dr. Roe intentionally concealed that he had inseminated (the patient) with sperm from someone other than (her husband), despite the fact that he knew he had done so.” The couple’s lawyer drafted a set of questions, asking Ramaley if he used his own sperm in the procedure. But before Ramaley had to answer under oath, the lawsuit was withdrawn, the case settled and a confidentiality ruling was imposed prohibiting anyone involved in the case from discussing it. Ramaley “always maintained this was an accident,” Ramaley’s attorney, Steven Errant, said. “There was never any proof of the allegations made in the complaint.”

Another part of the story that remains unanswered was why the state Department of Public Health (DPH), which investigated the complaint independent of the lawsuit, didn’t compel Ramaley to undergo a DNA test to determine whether he in fact, used his own sperm to inseminate his patient even though state law appears to give the department authority to do so. Instead, in a 2008 consent agreement negotiated with Ramaley’s attorney, they fined the doctor $10,000 for “using the wrong man’s sperm” in the procedure and allowed him to keep an unrestricted license.

When asked why the department never asked Ramaley to take a paternity test, state officials said they didn’t have the authority to do so. “The Department has no jurisdiction to order a respondent to undergo DNA testing,” according to a statement given by DPH to the Greenwich Time. However state statute makes it clear the department has full discretion to order any doctor under investigation to take a medical exam, the scope of which the department can determine.

Statute 20-13e (b) states that “the Department of Public Health may order the physician to submit to a physical or mental examination… The department may seek the advice of established medical organizations or licensed health professionals in determining the nature and scope of any diagnostic examinations.” The statute also says a Superior Court judge can order the respondent to submit to medical testing if he or she refuses.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ramaley continues to practice medicine although he no longer does the procedure in question. The doctor and the state DPH have a lot to answer for in this appalling case.
*

US Sen. Chris Dodd and his supporters have to be more than a little worried after a new Qunnipiac poll released yesterday shows his approval rating dropping yet again after several months of improving. As the author of The Hanging Shad pointed out on Channel 3’s “Face the State” program that airs Sunday, at this point in the campaign it’s all about the trend of the polls, not necessarily the number. Dodd’s approval numbers had been improving (although still below 50%) until yesterday.

54% of those surveyed disapprove of the job he’s doing and he loses or ties every hypothetical match-up with his Republican challengers except one. Troubling for Dodd is the fact that the poll was taken after President Barak Obama came to the state to lend his support to the senior senator. Possibly more telling is that his Democratic challenger, Merrick Alpert, who no one in the state knows unless you live next to him, got 23% in a match-up with Dodd. Those are clearly “anyone but Dodd” responses. The Republican pack is led by former US Rep. Rob Simmons and former WWE executive Linda McMahon )no surprise given the amount of money she has already spent on staff and advertising).

There were some interesting numbers in the race for governor as well. The poll, taken before Gov. Rell announced she would not run again, showed the governor’s numbers up again after several polls had her trending down. The Democrats were led by Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz (26%), and former US Senate candidate Ned Lamont (23%). Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy can’t be happy with the 9% he got especially having run statewide against Rell in 2006. He has a lot of work to do.

Before Lamont backers get too excited, they should realize the poll was taken just when he formed an exploratory committee to run and was featured in all the headlines. His numbers, like those of the others, are likely a function of name recognition.

NOTE: The author of The Hanging Shad is a guest of Channel 3’s Dennis House on “Face the State” that airs Sunday at 11:00 am. Tune in if you can!