Mass General ordered to release report on concurrent surgeries

A judge has ordered Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital to release a secret report that investigated instances of concurrent surgeries at the facility, according to The Boston Globe.

The report was written in 2011 by a lawyer who was hired by the hospital to investigate the safety and business implications of letting some surgeons oversee more than one operation at a time.  

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Rosemary Connolly ruled this week that Mass General must share an unredacted copy of the report with a former orthopedic surgeon who claims he was fired in 2015 for complaining about the practice of concurrent surgeries.

Dennis Burke, MD, who now practices at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton (Mass.) worked for Mass General for 35 years until he was let go in 2015. 

The hospital said it fired him for improperly releasing patient records, with names redacted, to a newspaper. Dr. Burke claims the hospital fired him because he complained about the safety risks of double-booking surgeries. 

In 2011, Mass General hired a lawyer to investigate Dr. Burke's concerns about concurrent surgeries. The hospital never released the report written by the lawyer.

Dr. Burke's attorneys have requested access to the report several times, but Mass General says it is protected by attorney-client privilege because it contains legal advice to the hospital.

The judge rejected Mass General's attempts to protect the report, arguing that the hospital hired the lawyer to conduct an internal review, not provide legal advice, and said that the hospital shared the report with a public relations firm that it hired to respond to issues of double-booking surgeries. 

"MGH has used the report as both sword and shield," Ms. Connolly wrote in her ruling, according to the Globe. "Mounting evidence all leads to the conclusion that even if sections of the Stern report were once privileged, they no longer are."

Mass General declined the Globe's request for comment. 

Read the full report here. 

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