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Cardiologist calls actions of surgeon 'beyond horrifying'

A recent publication by the New York Times has brought a teaching hospital under fire. The expose discusses how the pediatric cardiology group voiced concerns about the abilities of the chief of surgery to management and hospital executives. Instead of supporting their concerns, the leader of the children's hospital told the group a failure to use this surgeon could result in a loss of their jobs.

After the expose became public, hospital executives stated the group who pushed for change within the department had "team culture issues" that led to dysfunction. The recordings highlight the inner workings of a department and how these dynamics can impact patients. The interplay between physicians and administration can be a difficult one that could leave patients at risk.

Pediatric unit difficulties: The issue involved a surgeon expected by the hospital to perform heart transplants and other highly technical, difficult heart procedures on their young patients.

Due to these concerns, members of the department began to secretly record meetings. Within these meetings, the chief of pediatric cardiology admitted the department was "nowhere near" where it needed to be and called on the group to "figure out where to go from here" to help better ensure the department could provide their patients with quality care.

Examples of incidents discussed during these meetings included:

  • Pediatric heart transplant failure. The chief of surgery was expected to perform a heart transplant on an infant. The donor heart became available over a weekend. The surgeon did not come in to perform the transplant and did not give a clear reason as to why he failed to perform the procedure. The parents chose to transfer the baby to another facility to receive a transplant weeks later.
  • Complications from low-risk procedures. The recordings also show repeated concerns over complications arising from relatively low-risk procedures. Instead of the expected healthy recovery, children were finding themselves requiring mechanical support.

Although the physician who led the children's hospital wing encouraged physicians to follow their conscience when referring patients for surgery, he also stated fewer surgeries within their facilities would result in lost revenue and could cost them their jobs.

Lessons for patients in similar situations: Patients who believe dynamics within the hospital have contributed to injury have options to hold the hospital and responsible physicians accountable. An attorney experienced in these claims can provide more information.

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