Former UMass Memorial nurse says she was subjected to 'twisted hazing ritual' by surgeon: 7 things to know

A former nurse with Worcester, Mass.-based UMass Memorial Medical Center filed a discrimination grievance with the state in January, alleging the hospital did not seriously investigate her complaints of being harassed by male physicians and other staff, according to the Worcester Business Journal.

Here are seven things to know.

1. Attorneys on behalf of Kirsten Maxfield, RN, filed the complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. The grievance alleges Ms. Maxfield was "victimized" by male physicians who were her superiors and accuses UMass of conducting a "sham" investigation into the incidents of harassment reported to hospital administrators by Ms. Maxfield, according to a report from the Telegraph & Gazette.

2. Ms. Maxfield worked for UMass Memorial for about 10 years. The complaint alleges harassment began after she was transferred from the emergency department to the operating room in August 2016.

3. One of the specific incidents detailed in the report allegedly occurred during a patient surgery on or around April 10, 2017. The complaint describes the incident as a "twisted hazing ritual." According to the allegations, UMass surgeon Hongyi Cui, MD, sprayed Ms. Maxfield with a Stryker irrigation system that had just been removed from a patient and contained bodily fluids.

"Maxfield was soaked and had to leave the operating room to change her face shield, gown and booties," the complaint reads, according to the Telegraph & Gazette. "This incident was nothing short of assault."

4. Ms. Maxfield told her supervisor about the incident. Two days later, the supervisor allegedly told the nurse Dr. Cui said he hadn't meant to spray her. Ms. Maxfield reported the incident to UMass Memorial police, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Board of Medicine. The police opted not to charge the surgeon.

5. The legal complaint filed on behalf of Ms. Maxfield details further incidents of harassment and alleges the nurse was treated differently by staff after she reported the April incident. In July 2017, Ms. Maxfield was placed on unpaid administrative leave, according to the WBJournal.

6. UMass spokesperson Anthony Berry told the WBJournal the hospital was planning a "vigorous defense" against Ms. Maxfield's complaint.

"We take these allegations very seriously," Mr. Berry said. "We have conducted a thorough investigation of each claim — in accordance with standard procedures — and found no support for the charge's allegations."

7. Ms. Maxfield, who is a member of the Massachusetts Nurses Association's board, told the Telegraph & Gazette she came forward "so that other nurses who are subjected to this type of behavior, maybe they'll come out too."

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