Las Vegas Sun

October 15, 2018

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Ex-pol agrees to settle malpractice complaint

After 7 years, state medical malpractice case nears resolution

Lonnie Hammargren, a neurosurgeon and former lieutenant governor, has reached an agreement with the state Medical Examiners Board to settle a 7-year-old malpractice complaint.

Details of the settlement, on which the Medical Examiners Board will vote Aug. 7, are confidential until the board vote. But the board’s options will include suspending or revoking his license or levying a fine.

The complaint against Hammargren alleges that during an operation to remove a brain tumor, he failed to remove the tumor and didn’t “use the reasonable care, skill, or knowledge ordinarily used under similar circumstances.”

Hammargren, who has been licensed to practice medicine in Nevada since 1971, could not be reached for comment.

In December 2005 he said in a newspaper interview that he had taken a “sabbatical” from practicing medicine because of the high cost of malpractice insurance.

According to the Medical Examiners Board, Hammargren has not faced any disciplinary action since 1988, when the board began compiling records.

The patient, a 41-year-old woman, was referred to Hammargren after seeking care at Desert Springs Hospital’s emergency room in June 2001. She complained of tingling in her right arm and leg and weakness in her leg.

A CT scan revealed a possible meningioma — a tumor surrounding the brain. Hammargren ordered more evaluations, including an MRI, which also suggested the woman had a meningioma.

In February 2002 Hammargren operated to remove the tumor. The tissue removed by Hammargren was tested, but showed no evidence of meningioma.

An MRI scan was again performed on the woman and showed that her condition was unchanged from before the surgery.

In the complaint filed in December, the woman alleged Hammargren failed to remove the meningioma during surgery.

Hammargren was a regent in the Nevada System of Higher Education and then lieutenant governor from 1995-1999. He later ran unsuccessfully for governor and state Assembly.

He is also known for his eclectic collection of artifacts, including old casino signs and an Apollo space capsule, which he occasionally invites the public to view at his east Las Vegas home.

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