Third physician says he was punished for complaining about patient safety at New York hospital

Herbert Kunkle Jr., MD, is now the third physician to file a lawsuit against Auburn Community Hospital for allegedly punishing him for complaining about patient safety issues, according to syracuse.com.

The June 28 lawsuit claims the hospital terminated Dr. Kunkle's contract last year shortly after he told CEO Scott Berlucchi that elderly patients were in danger due to delayed hip fracture surgeries. Mr. Berlucchi and John Riccio, MD, took no action and gave Dr. Kunkle the impression he was causing trouble, the suit says.

The hospital said it would not comment on pending litigation but added that "we do want our patients and the community to know that we won't be distracted by these matters and are committed to providing the best healthcare to our patients."

Another physician, Gregory Serfer, MD, alleged in a lawsuit last year that the hospital failed to act when Jeremy Barnett, MD, a former intensive care unit physician, provided dangerous patient care. Karen Odrzywolski, MD, filed a suit earlier this year claiming she was punished for blowing the whistle on Dr. Barnett, a claim the hospital denies.

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