Boston Business Journal reported on November 7, 2019 that Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) agreed to pay an orthopedic surgeon the sum of $13 million to settle his claim that the hospital fired him in 2015 in workplace retaliation for raising concerns that patient safety was deficient.
The doctor now works at another hospital. He had worked at MGH for 35 years. Dr. Burke initially raised the concerns about patient safety internally and to regulatory authorities. He was concerned about “concurrent surgeries” being performed at the MGH. Concurrent surgery is the practice of doctors operating on more than one patient at a time. Concurrent surgeries allow doctors to perform more surgeries thus generating more money for the hospital. The problem is that some members of the medical community claim that patients are less safe because the treating surgeons can’t give 100% of their attention to the patient through the whole surgical process.
The hospital claimed that he was discharged because the doctor had breached the hospital’s confidentiality policies.
While neither side admitted to any wrongdoing, the net result, according to the doctor’s attorney is that patients are now safer – at MGH and at other hospitals. The law firm claims, “that the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine this year enacted policies to limit and better control under what circumstances surgeons can oversee more than one operation at a time.”
The orthopedic surgeon’s patient safety disclosure led to a series by the Boston Globe newspaper about the dangers of concurrent surgeries.
“In addition to the payment, MGH is establishing a “quality and safety educational initiative in Dr. Burke’s name” with an annual lecture to which he and residents in the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Residency Program will be invited, according to a statement from Zucker’s office.”
The doctor is gratified and please that patient safety and transparency will get the due respect they deserve.
The hospital also invited the doctor to rejoin its staff – but he decided to stay with his current hospital.
MGH claimed that part of the reason it agreed to the settlement was the hospital’s desire to move beyond the lawsuit which may not have been heard until 2021.
For help with any workplace retaliation, call the Law Office of Stephen Danz and Associates at online.to discuss your claim or contact us