The Anne Who Would Be Queen: 1997 lawyer response to investigators

Below is best available copy of the text and scan of the letter by legal counsel for Anne Lawrence in response to investigators regarding a 31 March 1997 incident which led Lawrence to resign as an anesthesiologist from Swedish Health Services in Seattle.

The State of Washington Department of Health initiated an investigation through their Health Professions Quality Assurance Commission as case number 97-05-0042MD.

Tarutis & Barron, P.S.

Gerald R. Tarutis
Kathryn R. Barron
Janet A. Horton
Attorneys at Law

Monica M. Welch
Paula L. Kenyon
Annette P. Anderson
Legal Assistants

3900 Bank of California Building
900 Fourth Avenue
Seattle Washington 98164
Phone: 206-223-1515
Fax: 206-223-1325

August 25, 1997
[stamped] Received AUG 26 1997 Investigations

Via Certified Mail
P 978 052 471

Virginia Renz, Investigator
Medical Quality Assurance Commission
1300 SE Quince Street
P.O. Box 47866
Olympia, WA 98504-7866

Re: Anne Lawrence, M.D.
Your File: 97-05-0042MD
Response to Request for Cooperation

Dear Ms. Renz:

I am enclosing Dr. Anne Lawrence’s response to your request for information about her resignation from Swedish Medical Center and the subsequent Data Bank Report. With her letter is a copy of her current Curriculum Vitae and evidence of her last three years Continuing Medical Education. I have enclosed her summary of CME credit hours, copies of her category I and II credits. I have not enclosed supporting data for her category III as it is the nature of anesthesia records and, therefore, I will not do so unless specifically requested as they contain confidential patient data.

Dr. Lawrence resigned her clinical privileges at Swedish Medical Center following summary peer review action based on a single incident in which she conducted a brief examination of a patient prior to hysterectomy. The examination was not done with the consent of the patient and Dr. Lawrence was the anesthesiologist, not the gynecologist. I believe that Swedish Medical Center will tell you that Dr. Lawrence’s clinical competence was not at issue in this case. Rather it was a matter of an isolated lapse in personal judgement. Dr. Lawrence has taken responsibility for her conduct. I understand that the patient has been informed of the examination and has expressed no concern. […approximately one line of text removed…]

I believe that factors other than the examination influenced the hospital’s reaction to the incident and Dr. Lawrence’s response. […half line of text removed…] there was a significant possibility of adverse and salacious media coverage of the incident. As Dr,. Lawrence indicates in her statement, […word(s) removed…] most people were uncomfortable about her presence. The hospital staff was faced with some logistical challenges. […approximately two lines of text removed…] Several unhappy staff members complained about this decision to hospital administration. After the incident involving Dr.

Virginia Renz, Investigator
August 25, 1997 Page 2

Lawrence’s examination of the patient, the story was soon making its way around the hospital. It was increasingly likely that the story would breach the boundaries of the hospital and get into the media.

As they discussed this incident with her, the hospital’s administrator painted the image of responding to phone calls from the Seattle Times reporters asking for comment on the story. Administration officials discussed with her the negative impact this kind of publicity would have on her and she was concerned about the effect such negative news stories could have on her two small children. […approximately 1.5 lines of text removed…] She had no intention of placing her children or her relationship with them in the hot light of the media. It was Dr. Lawrence’s clear impression that the hospital was telling her that there could be no assurances that the gossip that was circulating around the hospital would not be leaked to the press and that, in particular, that there was no way to prevent the unhappy members of the nursing staff from “breaking ranks.” […approximately two lines of text removed…]

Dr. Lawrence was also told, candidly, that her chance for retaining her privileges with the Board of Trustees, even if a challenge to any formal peer review action was successful, was remote. She could see that the combination of the abundance of anesthesiologists in the market and Swedish’s well guarded sterling reputation, did not bode well for her challenge.

The combination of Dr. Lawrence’s personal remorse about her conduct, the image of invasive media attention, and a fairly realistic political appraisal of her position at the hospital was sufficient to convince her not to defend herself or her privileges. Instead, she chose to accept the summary peer review action and resign.
[…approximately one line of text removed…] She is prepared to provide the Medical Commission with whatever assurances it deems necessary that this incident was isolated and has been remedied and will not occur again in the future.

As I indicated, D. Lawrence has authorized me to request that this matter be resolved as soon as possible. I have suggested to you that this case be assigned to a staff attorney and Reviewing Commissioner in the near term with plans to meet to discuss Commission concerns and reach agreed outcome in the near term. I appreciate your assistance in this regard. I look forward to talking with you.

Very truly yours,
Tarutis & Barron, P.S.
Kathryn R. Barron
Attorney at Law

Enc. Statement of Anne Lawrence, M.D.
Curriculum Vitae of Dr. Lawrence
CME evidence

Notes on documentation

These scans are the best available copy from Washington State's Health Professions Quality Assurance Commission. Areas in white appear to be emendations made in the dossier at the request of Anne Lawrence and/or her lawyers. These are indicated by [... bracketed ellipses...] in the transcripts. Areas in gray have been edited by me to protect certain aspects of Dr. Lawrence’s privacy, and are also indicated in the transcripts below. These documents have been transcribed verbatim, including any errors in the originals. Please report any inadvertent transcription errors by contacting me.