Patient accuses former Tennessee hospital CEO of assault with a deadly weapon

The former CEO of Bristol (Tenn.) Regional Medical Center who participated in a surgical procedure without a medical license is being accused of assault with a deadly weapon by the patient, according to WJHL

Greg Neal stepped down as CEO of the hospital, part of Johnson City, Tenn.-based Ballad Health, in August 2020 and subsequently said he was asked to resign for participating in a surgical procedure. The resignation came after a cardiothoracic surgeon, Nathan Smith, MD, invited Mr. Neal to enter the operating room to observe the surgery and asked him to make the initial incision for the procedure. 

Mr. Neal admitted his role in the incident, saying he regretted making the incision and accepted accountability. 

"More importantly, I apologize to the patient and their family. I apologize to the team members of Ballad Health, and to the leadership of Ballad Health," Mr. Neal told the Bristol Herald Courier in 2020. 

Ballad officials launched an investigation, which concluded with asking Mr. Neal to resign and firing Dr. Smith. 

The patient sued Ballad Health, Mr. Neal and Dr. Smith in 2021, alleging medical malpractice and civil tort battery. 

The defendants filed motions to dismiss the case, and the patient's lawyer amended the complaint in response. 

The amended complaint alleges Mr. Neal committed assault, according to WJHL

"We are alleging that he committed assault in our amended complaint in the fact that there were tools used or a scalpel that was used … we allege that could be a deadly weapon," the patient's lawyer told WJHL. 

Sullivan County (Tenn.) District Attorney Barry Staubus is requesting the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners look into the incident. The board is yet to respond. 

"They can give the recommendations and I may or may not follow the recommendations, and I may submit it to a grand jury, and they may or may not follow the recommendations either," Mr. Staubus told WJHL.

Ballad Health, Mr. Neal and Dr. Smith declined to comment on the lawsuit since the matter is still pending, according to the report. 

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