November 11, 2019

Around the nation: Doctor who raised concerns about concurrent surgeries reaches settlement with MGH

Daily Briefing

    Anne Klibanski, chief executive of Partners HealthCare, parent company of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), said, "We are very grateful for [the doctor's] efforts to shine a light on questions of surgical safety and quality that led to the development of important improvements in our institutional policies and improved the care we deliver at MGH," in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from California, District of Columbia, and Massachusetts.

    • California: Apple last week announced that veterans who get care from the Veterans Health Administration will be able to access their medical records through their iOS devices. The Department of Veterans Affairs this summer started working with Apple to allow access to health records for some of the nine million veterans enrolled in its health care system (Nellis, Reuters, 11/6).
    • District of Columbia: CMS last week announced that it approved its first pilot project to expand behavioral health treatment for Medicaid beneficiaries living with mental illness in the District of Columbia. The pilot will allow Medicaid to reimburse short-term stays in psychiatric hospitals for patients with substance use disorders or serious mental illness. CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the program will "substantially increase the range of services that are available to" Medicaid beneficiaries with serious mental illness and will assist "the District's goals of reducing opioid misuse and overdose deaths" (Rappleye, Becker's Hospital Review, 11/7).
    • Massachusetts: Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has reached a $13 million settlement with an orthopedic surgeon who raised concerns to state regulators and the Boston Globe about the hospital's use of concurrent surgeries while he worked at MGH. Concurrent surgeries are when an attending surgeon is responsible for multiple surgeries in different ORs at the same time. The surgeon, Dennis Burke, sued MGH for wrongful termination after the hospital fired him for violating patient confidentiality. Peter Slavin, president of MGH, and Timothy Ferris, who heads the hospital's physicians' organization, in an email to the hospital community said, "Mass. General strongly defends and stands by the decisions it made along the way" but noted that there was "a growing desire at the MGH to move beyond this lawsuit." Anne Klibanski, chief executive of Partners HealthCare, parent company of MGH, said, "We are very grateful for Dr. Burke's efforts to shine a light on questions of surgical safety and quality that led to the development of important improvements in our institutional policies and improved the care we deliver at MGH" (Saltzman, Boston Globe, 11/7).
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