Two Top NY Brain Surgeons Suspended For Abandoning Patient on OR Table

You don’t see this every day: Two top neurosurgeons at prestigious North Shore University Hospital were suspended for two weeks after abandoning a patient that had been prepped for brain surgery, had her head shaved, and been anesthetized.

According to New York’s Daily News, Thomas Milhorat, the hospital’s chief of neurosurgery, as well as his colleague, Paolo Bolognese, were suspended for two weeks starting April 17th after abandoning the patient on April 10th.

The paper reports that Milhorat earned $7.2 million in 2007 — the biggest surgeon salary in the New York area — and Bolognese made $2.4 million. (When doctors complain about the expense of malpractice premiums, their income is oddly omitted from the stories.)

The suspension conduct is remarkable because the medical community has a long history of covering up malfeasance. I’ve written before about the White Coat of Silence that prevents this type of information from coming out. (See also: How Medical Malpractice Gets Covered Up, and “They killed my patient. Then they tried to hide it.”)

But, as I’ve also noted a number of times, there are now appearing to be cracks in the knee-jerk philosophy of covering up, as shown in A Tale of Two Hospitals: One Covers-Up and One Apologizes.

Whether these anecdotes turn out to be part of a trend, or aberrations, we will know only with the passage of time.

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3 Responses Leave a comment

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:37 | Quote

    They had to tell this patient something when she woke up, and it appears they might have told her something like the truth.

    Scheduling errors occur, and whether it was Bolognese, his office, or the OR staff that made the mistake will presumably come out at some point (with no publicity). The Hospital’s reaction suggests that they will claim innocence.

    I wonder if Milhorat got a raw deal. The surgery, I have heard, was elective. Maybe the procedure would have been “easy” by the standards of neurosurgery, but assuming no actual harm would be caused by a delay, I think his decision not to do surgery on a patient he did not know (another assumption, I guess) was reasonable.
    # posted by Anonymous Larry Burnett : May 07, 2009 4:22 PM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:37 | Quote

    Larry:

    I had the same thought about the Milhorat, since the article says it wasn’t his patient.

    But I can’t see the hospital suspending him just for refusing to operate on someone else’s patient. I suspect there is much more to the story.
    # posted by Blogger Eric Turkewitz : May 07, 2009 4:33 PM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:37 | Quote

    University members had taken good decision but as Eric said there must be some black part in the story.
    # posted by Anonymous Personal Injury Attorney : May 09, 2009 3:57 AM

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