Health Care

Fresno cardiologist disciplined by California Medical Board

A Fresno cardiologist has been disciplined by the California Medical Board in connection with the care of six patients between 2006 and 2010.

Dr. Hygin Andrew's medical license was revoked, but the revocation was stayed and he was placed on five years probation.

The medical board decision took effect July 31.

In one of the cases, the medical board said Andrew failed to treat cardiac shock appropriately, and in another he failed to notice a hole in a blood vessel during a stenting procedure. In both cases, the patients died.

Andrew did not return telephone messages left at his office, but his lawyer, Joseph Furman of Beverly Hills, said the doctor treated very ill patients with a high risk of mortality. The patients were "transferred to him basically in the middle of the night in cardiogenic shock, meaning the heart has stopped pumping," he said.

Andrew is a "caring and gracious and compassionate" person and was willing to take on the harder cases, Furman said.

The doctor has already complied with proctoring and remediation requirements that were imposed by a hospital in Fresno, Furman said. Andrew accepted the probation because he did not want to battle further with the medical board, he said.

"I believe the discipline imposed on Dr. Andrew is very harsh and almost redundant," Furman said.

As conditions of the probation, the medical board said Andrew must enroll in a course in medical record keeping and a course in clinical training. He is required to be monitored by another practicing physician and cannot supervise physician assistants.

The probation comes more than a year after the medical board filed a formal accusation of wrongdoing against Andrew.

He was accused of gross negligence in the six cases, including one of an 81-year-old woman who was transferred Aug. 31, 2009, from the hospital in Coalinga to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.

The woman was in cardiogenic shock on arrival, the accusation said, and Andrew performed a coronary artery procedure, angioplasty and stent placement. Andrew failed to provide intra-aortic support during or after the catheterization in spite of documented cardiogenic shock, the accusation said. And he failed to provide vasopressor (an agent to raise the blood pressure) and provide mechanical support by a pump that increases blood flow.

The woman died on Sept. 1, 2009.

In another case on Aug. 26, 2010, the accusation said, Andrew failed to recognize a hole in a vessel that occurred during a stenting procedure on a 79-year-old woman who had been transferred from Clovis Community Hospital to Community Regional. The patient had to be placed on life support, which was removed when the family said she did not want resuscitation. The patient died.

Andrew exposed another patient to an excessive use of dye and radiation time, the accusation said.

The medical board also accused the doctor of dictating a fictitious history and physical of a patient without seeing or examining the patient; and in another case of delaying the completion of a medical record.

On the medical board website, Andrew lists board certifications by the American Board of Internal Medicine --- cardiovascular disease and internal medicine. He is a 1971 graduate of the University of Kerala, a medical school in India.