Surgeon claims she was fired from Spectrum Health Medical Group after 'sham peer review'

An orthopedic surgeon has filed suit against Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Spectrum Health Medical Group, alleging the organization's new chief conducted a "sham peer review" of her work while she was on leave for breast cancer treatment, reports.

The surgeon, 53-year-old Susan Day, MD, said she was "constructively terminated" on Jan. 1, despite having strong skills and a large patient base. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, alleges SHMG discriminated against her age and sex and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"SHMG used a sham peer review procedure to further the agenda of [Peter Jebson, MD, department chief] and one or two other surgeons, who stood to financially benefit from Dr. Day's absence," Dr. Day's attorney wrote in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims Dr. Jebson, who began leading the orthopedic department about a year earlier, "did not like ideas, criticism or respectful opposition from Dr. Day, who was the lone female surgeon in the department."

Dr. Day said the department falsely accused her of operating on patients when it was "not medically necessary or advisable," according to the lawsuit. Dr. Day contended she accurately treated the patients whose files were under review while she went on medical leave for breast cancer treatment in October 2016. She asked to end her medical leave on April 16, 2017, but was told she was suspended with pay pending the investigation.

Last month, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs told her she was under investigation by the medical board, but state records indicate she is licensed as a medical doctor through Jan. 31, 2019, according to the report.

In addition to returning to her job, Dr. Day is seeking damages for lost wages and benefits and "compensatory damages for mental anguish, emotional distress and damage to her patient base."

Spectrum Health denied the allegations, but has not yet filed a response to the lawsuit.

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