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Health Care

Impaired vision

Tough times for the governor’s former health-care advisor

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Rudy Manthei
Courtesy of the Las Vegas Sun

It’s been a busy year for Rudy Manthei. The prominent Las Vegas ophthalmologist, who’s served as a health-care advisor to Gov. Jim Gibbons, has been fighting for malpractice reform for years with his organization, Keep Our Doctors in Nevada. KODIN was active in trying to defeat a bill in the state legislature that would have lifted the $350,000 cap on malpractice awards for pain and suffering—a cap KODIN had helped create. The bill was a direct result of last year’s endoscopy clinic crisis, but opponents claimed the bill would raise insurance premiums. Though the bill passed the Assembly, it didn’t pass the Senate.

While Manthei may have helped put the brakes on the pain and suffering cap, he’s had plenty of headaches with the court system himself. In May he supervised a party with underage drinking at his home. When a cop answered a noise complaint a little past midnight, there were around 20 juveniles in the driveway; some appeared close to fighting. “Those juveniles outside advised that most of the other juveniles were drinking but there was an adult inside the residence,” the officer wrote.

According to the report, Manthei told police he knew the kids were drinking and that he had hired two security guards to supervise them. He said the remaining 10 adolescents were planning to spend the night and wouldn’t be driving. But the cop stopped two teens as they were driving away from Manthei’s place. Both were underage and had been drinking. Manthei was arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He pleaded not guilty. At the end of August the case was set for trial in November.

Manthei was also named as a defendant in a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed this spring against the Seven Hills Surgery Center, which he owns. The state-of-the-art Henderson facility performs more than 6,000 surgeries a year. This suit was filed in April by more than 50 anesthesiologists. The surgery center drew up new contracts with anesthesiologists affiliated with Valley Anesthesiology Consultants; those who weren’t claim they were told by Seven Hills that the new contracts would not impact their practice, only to find out that they were barred from practicing at Seven Hills. The doctors called for a hearing to discuss the changes in the contract, but the hearing was denied by Seven Hills. The parties are currently awaiting a ruling on plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction against Seven Hills.

Manthei (who returned a call from the Weekly after the print story went to press) said the contracts were meant to improve health care by making anesthesiologist care more consistent, and improving interaction between anesthesiologists, surgeons, nurses and patients. “A lot of times they would show up right before the operation,” he says. “We wanted to get away from that type of care.”

He also defended the decision to deny the doctors’ request for a hearing, arguing that hearings are only for disciplinary action. “We’re just saying we’re going to exclusive anesthesiologists, but we’re not saying anything bad about them.”

Manthei refused to comment about the case in Henderson, but he said a public statement might be coming soon. It’s not the first time he has flirted with controversy. A few years ago he was involved in a bitter lawsuit with a rival ophthalmologist, who claimed Manthei tried to run him out of town.

He doesn’t think the publicity effects his malpractice reform work. “I’m willing to put myself out there,” he says. “I’m continuing to put myself out there because I believe in what I’m doing. It’s all part of being in politics, so to speak.”

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