Surgery is a complicated undertaking. Those who perform it in California must have years of training and education. Unfortunately, one surgeon in another state who questioned his employer’s — a hospital — policy of allowing doctors to perform more than one surgery at once has recently turned to litigation after he claims he was wrongfully terminated.
The events that led to the man’s termination were sparked by a newspaper’s investigation into the practice of concurrent surgeries. As part of the investigation, a well-respected orthopedic surgeon who had been employed by the hospital for 35 years spoke against it. As part of the investigation, it was pointed out that doctors often worked on patients at the same time without informing the patient.
The doctor was terminated from his position following his comments that would ultimately spark a national conversation in the medical community about the practice. While attorneys for the man claim that it is a clear message from the hospital about what happens to employees who speak out against it, the hospital claims that he was terminated for providing patient records to the newspaper as part of the investigation. The records reportedly had identifying information redacted. While studies examining the practice of concurrent surgeries are few, medical ethicists claim that, at the very least, patients should be informed about the practice.
Doctors and other medical care providers should be able to report issues of concerns in regard to patient safety without fear of retaliation. Unfortunately, workers in California often fall victim to wrongful termination for doing what they feel is morally and legally right. Often, litigation is the only path to recourse following such treatment.
Source: The Boston Globe, “Prominent surgeon sues MGH, alleging he was fired for raising patient safety concerns”, Jonathan Saltzman, Sept. 8, 2017