Doc Charged With Manslaughter Faces Malpractice Suit
The widow of the brain surgery patient, Christine Metzger, is suing Jonathan Nakhla, MD, and his former employer, Infirmary Health System, for negligence and wrongful death, according to Mobile, AL-based television station WKRG.
Dennis Metzger was admitted to Mobile Infirmary Medical Center in December 2018 with a left frontal lobe brain tumor that had been confirmed on MRI. Images of the the patient’s brain, ordered by Nakhla, determined that surgery was required, so Nakhla took Metzger to the operating room 5 days after he was first admitted to the hospital.
The patient consented to biopsy and remove part of the tumor, but, according to the lawsuit, Nakhla instead removed all of the tumor from the frontal lobe.
The surgeon documented that the tumor came out easily, but that “the mass was extremely vascular and hemorrhagic.” The suit alleges that Nakhla later “realized he performed the wrong surgery and either he himself crossed through the original disclosure to alter it…or directed someone else to do so.”
Later that evening, Nakhla reportedly took the patient, who had become lethargic and nonresponsive, back to the operating room for emergency surgery. Metzger never regained consciousness and died within 4 days of the initial procedure.
Fall from Grace
Nakhla has had a rapid fall from grace since August 2020, when he was charged with manslaughter.
According to WKRG reporting, prosecutors said the neurosurgeon was driving more than 130 miles per hour in a 45 MPH zone and had a blood alcohol content above the legal limit when he swerved to avoid another car. He rolled his sports car multiple times, and the impact killed Nakhla’s passenger, third-year medical student Samantha Thomas, who was 24.
Thomas’ father sued Nakhla a few weeks after the accident.
Nakhla, a graduate of Duke University School of Medicine, was first licensed in Alabama in 2018. He interned in neurologic surgery at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Health System in New York City and participated in fellowships at both Einstein and Weill Cornell Medical College/New York–Presbyterian Hospital. Nakhla was a junior attending neurosurgeon at Brown University’s Lifespan Health System, according to his resume.
Soon after the manslaughter charge, Nakhla was fired from Mobile Infirmary, according to WKRG. He voluntarily surrendered his medical license in September 2020,
according to the Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners