About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star
Armitage to leave hospital
The news of the departure of Dr. John Armitage from Mary Washington Hospital brings to mind a story about the heart surgeon that illustrates how many of his patients feel about him.
Armitage has been medical director of the heart program at Mary Washington since 1994. He led the organization through one of its most difficult times, in 2004-2005, when heart patients were being killed by a poison medicine. Six patients died and three were injured when they received bacteria-laden medicine during their heart procedures.
Armitage helped discover what was causing the problem, and, by all accounts, was open and honest with the injured patients and families of those who died. The patients and survivors sued the hospital and the manufacturer of the medicine, Central Admixture Pharmacy Services of Maryland. The hospital had no responsibility for what happened and was quickly dropped from the suits. The manufacturer of the bad medicine eventually paid more than $6 million to settle with the families.
While covering this, I pointed out to the attorney for the families that she had sued the hospital and the manufacturer.
“Why didn’t you name Dr. Armitage?” I asked her.
“My clients won’t let me,” she replied.
The plaintiffs had lost loved ones or been badly injured at Armitage’s hands, yet they bore him no ill will. They knew he was not responsible for what happened, and they respected the way he handled himself both before and after the surgeries.
Armitage will be leaving the hospital June 1. It not clear why, except that his contract expires then and has not been renewed. I have not been able to reach Armitage to ask about it, and the hospital isn’t saying much, except to thank him for his service and wish him well.
Look for a story about Armitage and his departure in tomorrow’s paper.