Friday, March 11, 2011

At the Centre of a Scandal

Rarely does one find oneself actually having worked in what is shaping up to be a major political scandal.

Thoracic surgery at the C of E was a poor cousin to cardiac. This was unfortunate for them as they shared beds and operating time and guess who won out there.

About 5 years into my tenure at the C of E a new thoracic surgeon was recruited. Now at the C of E at that time there was only room for one thoracic surgeon which as you can see could potentially cause some problems.

The fellow they recruited was a local boy who trained at another centre and had done some training over in Britain. He was technically not a bad surgeon, he was a little whiny, he liked to operate at night etc. Despite some interpersonal problem I had with him early on, we actually got along, and I actually enjoyed working with him. After a few years, he started to complain about things like not being able to recruit other thoracic surgeons due to lack of OR time (which meant he had to be on call every night), and his beds being filled by cardiac surgery patients meaning that he often had cases canceled due to no beds. He also couldn't get beds in the cardiothoracic ICU, the hospital wouldn't open a step down unit which was all most of his patients needed. He also complained about being on call every night because the hospital couldn't or wouldn't recruit another thoracic surgeon. Briefly a city wide call schedule was instituted but the other surgeons in the city soon tired of working at the C of E at night.

Suddenly he was gone. The story which I only heard today was that one day he arrived to find the locks on his office changed and the chief of surgery and two security guards waiting. He was escorted from the building.

In his place was a wise man from the East, a thoracic surgeon recruited from Toronto. He seemed to be a nice guy a first, he was fast, and didn't always want the lung down. Soon it became apparent there were problems with him. His judgment seemed a little questionable; we started seeing his patients on ventilators in recovery; he insisted on operating on patients we wanted to cancel, he left residents in the room and couldn't be located when the shzt hit the fan. At the same time suddenly we got a step down unit, there never seemed to be cancellations of thoracic cases and two more thoracic surgeons were recruited.

Rumours then started flying about how this wise man had been recruited to evaluate the whiny one's practice and being told, " Oh by the way how would you like to work here?"

Things rapidly went south, the two other thoracic surgeons moved to other hospitals mainly because they didn't like working with the wise man from the east. I left the C of E. I think that the prospect of working with the wise man was a major factor in my leaving. About a year after I left, I got a memo stating that the wise man was taking a leave of absence. He has never returned from this.

Why am I digging up more dirt on the C of E.

This fellow a physician member of our legislature has been making accusations of cover ups of cancer deaths on the wait lists and pay-offs to physicians. My first impulse was that even our health authority and government aren't that malicious. Then I thought about the whiny one. And today this appears on the front page of my local paper .

The whiny one of course sued and according to scuttlebutt around the OR today got between 8 and 12 MILLION dollars in an out of court settlement. No wonder he is smiling.

And here I was at the centre of it all. Sad to think of how many nurses 12 million could have paid for.

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