A Richland obstetrician and gynecologist who was suspended earlier this year will be able to treat patients again so long as he meets numerous conditions.
Dr. Alexander M. Ortolano, who was accused of performing unnecessary procedures and other unprofessional conduct, is subject to four years of oversight by the state Medical Quality Assurance Commission.
He’s limited in the number of births he can perform each year, and he must seek and be supported by a second opinion for surgeries. He also will meet regularly with another OB/GYN to review practices.
Ortolano also must complete clinical competence and professional assessments, and submit to annual record and practice reviews, among other requirements.
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Ortolano’s attorney, Christopher Mertens, said the doctor is “very happy it’s come to this point” of resolution, but “he’s very disappointed in the Department of Health for summarily suspending his license (earlier this year) and not approaching him with this proposal” before taking that step.
Kristi McKennon, an attorney representing patients in three medical negligence cases against Ortolano, said many of her clients would have preferred Ortolano not be able to see patients again. “But they understand the Department of Health is limited in what it can do. They feel the (department) put together a solid order that requires the doctor to be the subject of several evaluations and have many limitations before he can practice again,” she said.
State health officials suspended Ortolano’s license in July, saying his actions raised serious concerns.
Among the allegations:
▪ Ortolano took on a high number of deliveries, putting mothers and babies at risk.
▪ He performed many unnecessary services and procedures, including unnecessary postpartum dilation and curettage procedures. Some D&Cs were done in a way that hurt the patients’ uterus, and at least three patients went on to have hysterectomies.
▪ His documentation was below the standard of care.
▪ He provided sub-standard care to multiple patients, including one case in which he left a C-section after making an incision in order to deliver another baby, although another obstetrician was available for that delivery.
Ortolano is part of Arbor Healthcare for Women in Richland. The practice has other providers and remained open during Ortolano’s suspension.
The health department documents are available online at www.doh.wa.gov by clicking on “Licenses, Permits and Certificates” and then “Provider Credential Search.”