Physicians claim LA County allowed surgeon's brazen misconduct for years

Three physicians at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center have filed suit against owner Los Angeles County, alleging that the misconduct of one orthopedic surgeon was overlooked by management for years, NBC News reports.  

The plaintiffs allege that the behavior of Louis Kwong, MD, created a toxic work environment and put patients at risk at the Torrance, Calif.-based hospital. Dr. Kwong recently served as the head of Harbor-UCLA's orthopedics department. He was placed on administrative leave in March 2022 and Los Angeles County hired a law firm to investigate allegations against him; the investigation is ongoing. 

In their lawsuit, three female physicians say they were demoted or otherwise retaliated against when they complained about Dr. Kwong's alleged behavior, which includes sexual misconduct with sedated patients, intentional surgery delays, wearing a gun in the hospital and operating room, and demanding that a television used to monitor a patient mid-surgery show a baseball game for his entertainment during an operation. 

The plaintiffs allege that administrators of the county-owned hospital ignored written and verbal complaints about Dr. Kwong, who has worked at the hospital since 1990, for years.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, which operates the Harbor-UCLA, shared the following statement with NBC News: "Harbor-UCLA Medical Center is committed to the health and safety of our patients and staff. These allegations of misconduct are being thoroughly investigated and, if substantiated, will result in appropriate corrective actions. We deeply value the trust the public places in our dedicated medical and patient care teams. Safeguarding patient care is our highest priority."

Harbor-UCLA has a residency program affiliated with UCLA Medical School.

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