Friday, June 22, 2007

Former UTSW doc files whistleblower suit against med school

A former division chairman at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas is suing the school, alleging he was retaliated against for voicing concerns about residents performing unsupervised procedures on Parkland Hospital patients.

Dr. Larry Gentilello was chairman of the division of burn, trauma and critical care at UT Southwestern and held the C. James Carrico MD Chair in Trauma. Gentilello, in a lawsuit filed last week in a Dallas County District Court, said he was removed from both positions after voicing concerns about what he felt were violations of Medicare and Medicaid rules. The lawsuit was filed under Texas' whistelblower act.
John Walls, assistant vice president for public affairs at UT Southwestern, declined to comment on the allegations because of pending litigation.

According to the lawsuit, Gentilello observed that UT Southwestern trauma residents were performing surgical procedures on patients at Parkland Hospital without the supervision of attending trauma surgeons.

"The patients at Parkland typically consist of indigents and are primarily minorities," according to the suit. "On the other hand, when patients are being treated at Zale Lipshy, attending physicians are present at the time that the patients are treated and during the time that surgical procedures are performed. Of course, the patients at Zale Lipshy are not indigent."

Parkland Hospital declined to comment on pending litigation. The hospital was not named in the suit and is not accused of wrongdoing in the lawsuit.

In March, he received a letter from a UTSW official, Dr. Robert V. Rege, saying he was being stripped of his chair positions. Rege sets the policies regarding presence of attending physicians during surgery and had the power to investigate the allegations, the suit contended.

Gentilello said in the lawsuit that he believes he lost the positions because he reported the "illegal patient care and supervisory" practices he observed. | 214-706-7106

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