New York hospital ICU chief: Complaints about problem physician 'fell on deaf ears'

Auburn (N.Y.) Community Hospital's chief of intensive care, Hal Feinberg, MD, says the hospital CEO ignored complaints of an abusive physician for months before taking action, according to a Syracuse.com report.

Dr. Feinberg alleges he reported complaints from about 100 physicians, nurses and other staff to Auburn CEO Scott Berlucchi last year. He says he spoke with Mr. Berlucchi once, sometimes twice, per week due to the volume of complaints. Staff alleged an ICU physician, Jeremy Barnett, MD, was verbally abusive in front of patients and their families, and in some cases, ignored advice of other staff, which may have led to adverse patient outcomes, according to the report.

"No matter what I said, it fell on deaf ears," Dr. Feinberg told Syracuse.com. Mr. Berlucchi told Dr. Feinberg to have staff put complaints in writing, he says. By Dr. Feinberg's account, staff complied and the hospital took no action. Ultimately the nurses union, 1199 SEIU, got involved, as did the human resources department and the state.

Two physicians filed lawsuits against the hospital for the two most serious complaints, one of which involved a patient death. A state health department investigation also found the hospital did not take appropriate action after staff lodged complaints about Dr. Barnett.

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