Court says Texas Tech must allow medical student back into class

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

Sandeep Rao will be allowed back into classes when they resume on July 8. Rao was expelled from medical school after he wrote a column in The University Daily discussing his experience during an autopsy. The school said Rao had violated the terms of a confidentiality agreement he had signed upon admittance, in which he promised not to reveal information that could lead to identification of patients.

According to the lawsuit medical students commonly discuss observations about autopsies with friends and family, without revealing confidential information including patient identity. Rao says he did that, only on a larger scale. He sued the medical school in May, claiming his being expelled violated his First Amendment rights. His lawyers also argued that autopsy reports are a matter of public record in Texas.

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.

Rao had been a regular columnist at the Daily until his Jan. 24 column that discussed an autopsy he had witnessed. Rao’s lawsuit alleges faculty members who took part in his disciplinary hearings punished him for views he had expressed in previous columns.

Read our previous coverage.