Physician alleges Sharp Grossmont forced his resignation after patient safety complaints

Patrick Sullivan, MD, a one-time chief of anesthesiology at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, Calif., filed a 48-page complaint against the hospital Jan. 24 alleging administrators forced his resignation after he raised concerns regarding safety issues. Additionally, Dr. Sullivan alleges Grossmont administrators reinstalled hidden cameras to record surgeries without the permission of patients or physicians.

According to a KPBS report, from 2012 to 2013, Sharp Grossmont conducted video surveillance in operating rooms in the hospital's women's center to determine the cause for sedatives missing from anesthesia carts. The hospital apologized for the surveillance after a USB drive containing video clips of patients undergoing surgery were obtained by an attorney. The hospital currently faces two lawsuits from women accusing Sharp Grossmont of filming them without consent during labor.

Dr. Sullivan's lawsuit alleges he discovered in January 2016 that hospital administrators introduced computer monitors with embedded cameras throughout the hospital likely for the purpose of filming physicians and patients. While the physician said he has no hard evidence the hospital is again filming patients, he added that such a conclusion was warranted considering the hospital's history, according to KPBS.

"New laptops were installed in the ORs in support of SurgiNet, a perioperative and anesthesia information system," Sharp spokesman John Cihomsky told KPBS via email. "Like all new laptops, they came with built-in cameras; however, software was never installed on those laptops to activate the cameras. No surveillance occurred."

Dr. Sullivan's lawsuit says he repeatedly complained to hospital management about patient safety issues at Sharp Grossmont. Among the alleged safety issues are nursing shortages, inadequate stocking of medications and violations of leadership standards established by The Joint Commission.

According to KPBS, Dr. Sullivan said these complaints "would go into a black hole. You would never hear about it again. Or you'd get platitudes saying they'll fix the problem, but the problem would never be fixed."

Dr. Sullivan said, because of these complaints, administrators pushed him to resign. Dr. Sullivan is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for emotional strain and harm to his reputation.

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