After physician accused of sexual misconduct, Dayton Children's Hospital CEO pens memo to staff: 'This situation was ambiguous'

Deb Feldman, president and CEO of Dayton (Ohio) Children's Hospital, wrote an email memo to staff Wednesday regarding the hospital's handling of allegations of sexual assault by Arun Aggarwal, MD, a former pediatric gastroenterologist at the hospital, reports the Dayton Daily News.

The email went out after the state medical board on Wednesday voted to permanently revoke Dr. Aggarwal's medical license over two separate complaints in 2014 that he improperly touched the breasts of two teenage female patients.

In her email, Ms. Feldman discusses an interview she did with the Dayton Daily News after the state medical board's decision as part of a series of articles the publication is running on the situation.

The Dayton Daily News published her memo in full. Here are four highlights.

1. "First, I told them we are deeply saddened by this situation." Ms. Feldman said the hospital leaders are concerned that despite the quality care Dayton Children's Hospital has provided for more than 50 years, " this story has given the impression that we did not fulfill our promise in this situation to protect our patients so we felt it was necessary to respond."

2. "This situation was ambiguous," she wrote, as leaders attempted to determine if the patients' families' allegations were indicative of inappropriate behavior by Dr. Aggarwal or a "misunderstanding regarding a physicians' proper exam of a child." She added that when the allegations were made, Ms. Feldman and her colleagues did not have all of the information available that was later presented to the medical board.

3. "Our process failed us," she said. However, Dayton Children's Hospital has already implemented three significant changes that its leaders believe will prevent a similar situation from occurring. These changes include the establishment of a new process for child abuse experts to immediately review similar concerns; the addition of "one of the most conservative chaperone policies in the country"; and a commitment to work with healthcare providers to help them better communicate with patients and their families before an examination, "so there is no misinterpretation and we can respond in a more careful and caring manner to any concerns."

4. "There was no retaliation to the employees who raised concerns about Dr. Aggarwal," and the hospital's leadership encourages all employees to come forward with concerns about patient safety, Ms. Feldman wrote. She emphasized that the hospital prioritizes the safety of its patients above anything else, and "we work hard to develop a culture of safety that encourages our employees to identify and report any and all safety concerns, including an anonymous alert line," according to the report.

Editor's note: This article was updated at 5:43 CST on May 12, 2017 to remove the statement that said Ms. Feldman had not previously addressed the organization's staff regarding the allegations against Dr. Aggarwal. Her email memo simply came after the state medical board made their decision to revoke Dr. Aggarwal's medical license.

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