Former hospital exec sues Tenet, claims retaliation for reporting unnecessary surgeries

The former president of DMC Heart Hospital filed a federal lawsuit April 1 against Detroit Medical Center, parent company Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, and three executives.

In his wrongful discharge and retaliation lawsuit, Ted Schreiber, MD, claims he was forced out of his job at DMC Heart Hospital in October for reporting quality of care issues. DMC said Dr. Schreiber was asked to step down from his position for unspecified conduct violations, according to The Detroit News.

Dr. Schreiber is one of four cardiologists who claim DMC pushed them out of leadership positions for complaining about issues that negatively affected patient care. Dr. Schreiber alleges he raised concerns about multiple issues during DMC peer review meetings, including physician competency and unnecessary surgeries performed on patients by other physicians. However, DMC and Tenet executives ignored his complaints, according to the lawsuit.

"[T]he profitability of physicians was being weighed more heavily by DMC and Tenet executives than the physicians' ability to provide services to patients within the standard of care," the complaint states, according to The Detroit News. "This policy resulted in an increase in unnecessary and/or risky procedures conducted by some physicians leading to bad patient outcomes and even patient deaths."

Dr. Schreiber sued DMC and Tenet about one week after two other cardiologists who were also terminated from their leadership positions for unspecified conduct violations filed suit.

Regarding the lawsuit, DMC issued the following statement to Crain's Detroit Business: "Contrary to the unsubstantiated claims made by Dr. Schreiber and by two former contracted physicians who all violated our Standards of Conduct, our top priority at the DMC is to deliver safe, high quality care to the people of Detroit. We have a culture of integrity, which means we don't look the other way, we don't condone inappropriate behavior of any kind, and we don't compromise on our priorities. That also means we expect physicians to uphold our Standards of Conduct, including treating fellow physicians, nurses and staff members with respect and dignity. We welcome the opportunity to present the facts underlying the claims made in the complaint."

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