Dr. Whistle Blower

A nephrologist in California, Mark Fahlen, MD,  reported several problems with his hospital’s  nursing staff to nursing supervisors and the center’s administration between 2004  and 2008.  This American Medical News article summarizes the story but he  claimed:

nurses were failing to follow his directions, thus endangering patients’ lives. In one instance, nurses refused to follow the doctor’s order to shock a patient with defibrillator paddles, he said. In another instance, medical staff allegedly ignored his order to transfer a patient to intensive care. 

What happened after that?   Well, the nurses attacked back and complained about Dr. Fahlen’s behavior.

Subsequently, the physician was fired, and the hospital refused to renew his staff privileges. A peer committee consisting of six physicians reviewed the decision and found no professional incompetence by Dr. Fahlen, according to court records. The panel reversed the hospital’s decision, but the center’s board overturned the reversal.

Wow. Sounds like a mess and it is.   Dr. Fahlen did not go after them through a judicial review of the decision to revoke his privileges, instead opting to sue the hospital and assert a whistle-blower retaliation claim.  Basically, instead of waiting years to get his day in court the case is expedited.   This can be abused, obviously, but the fact that it trumps the “disruptive physician” card used by hospital administrators is intriguing.   I love how Jana DuBois, vice president and legal counsel for the California Hospital Association claims, “The ruling weakens the peer review hearing process and compromises hospitals’ ability to make appropriate patient care decisions”.  Really? The doctor went through a peer review and won it yet the hospital board overturned it!

My advice to those doctors working for hospitals is to learn more about this case.   Hospital administrators are all about the bottom line…money.  If their cuts put patients at risk and you complain too much then they will start a paper trail to get you fired.   You need to start your own paper trail and document everything.   You need to fight back and here is a nice case as precedent.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected]