Columnist allowed back in medical school





TEXAS -- A second-year medical student who was expelled from Texas Tech University's medical school for writing a newspaper column has been granted a temporary injunction and will be allowed back into school.

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\n Sandeep Rao was reinstated on July 8. He was expelled after he wrote a column in the University Daily discussing his experience during an autopsy.

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\n The school said Rao violated the terms of a confidentiality agreement he signed upon admittance, in which he promised not to reveal information that could lead to identification of patients.

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\n ''It was nice getting back to school,'' Rao said. ''I've gotten some positive feedback from some of the students.''

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\n According to Rao's lawsuit, medical students commonly discuss observations about autopsies without revealing confidential information, such as patient identity. Rao said he did that, only on a larger scale. He sued the medical school in May, claiming the expulsion violated his First Amendment rights. His lawyers also argued that autopsy reports are a matter of public record in Texas.

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\n The injunction allows Rao re-admittance to the school during the lawsuit and allows him to make up course work and testing that he missed after being expelled in April. The trial is set to begin in July 2003.

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\n ''I'm happy with the judge's decision. I'm kind of pleased with how, on a certain level, the school has been flexible working with me,'' Rao said. ''I've been thinking about getting a campus transfer and they've been fairly flexible in dealing with me on that.''

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\n Rao had been a regular columnist at the Daily until his Jan. 24 column. The suit alleges faculty members who took part in his disciplinary hearings punished him for his views in previous columns.


CASE: Rao v. Texas Tech Univ., No. 2002-517,844 (Tex. Jud. Dist. Ct. June 27, 2002) (order granting temporary injunction)


Fall 2002, reports