Surgical resident sues St. Louis University, alleges discrimination due to nursing background

A fourth-year surgical resident filed a civil lawsuit last Friday against St. Louis University over alleged misconduct issues involving program leaders, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Here are six things to know.

1. Surgical resident Mandy Rice, DO, claims she is being forced to redo her fourth year of residency due to shortcomings and retaliatory actions made by her program leaders.

2. The lawsuit names Catherine Wittgen, MD, director of SLU's surgery residency program, and Carl Freeman, MD, chief of the trauma service, as defendants, along with the university.

3. Dr. Rice claims the leaders discriminated against her because of her past experience as a registered nurse. Dr. Freeman allegedly told Dr. Rice she was "too nice" and "too much of a nurse," and Dr. Wittgen told her to "stop being a nurse" on numerous occasions in front of colleagues, according to the suit.

4. The lawsuit also alleges numerous instances where SLU leaders did not comply with the program's policies and procedures. After Ms. Rice was placed on probation for failing a training test, the university allegedly did not outline the terms of her probation, give her regular feedback about her performance or provide her with a physician mentor, according to the report.

5. When Ms. Rice found out she was going to be held back a year in her residency, she tried to appeal the decision, but was unsuccessful. The lawsuit claims Dr. Wittgen retaliated against Dr. Rice for the appeal by assigning her to rotations usually given to third year residents.

6. Dr. Rice said she brought the issues up to medical school leadership, but was dismissed. She's seeking $25,000 in damages and court costs. She also wants to be promoted to her fifth year of residency. A spokesman for SLU declined St. Louis Post-Dispatch's request for comment on the lawsuit.

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