Monday, December 19, 2005

In the last post, I mentioned that there was a pattern regarding the University of California and its tolerance of anything that might threaten its funding streams. To reiterate my own experience: as a resident, I had been asked by the residency program director that if a patient refused a surgery based on what I had told him, "don’t you realize that you would be responsible?" In context, (see my Sunday, June 16, 2002 post) I thought that was a pretty clear, though misguided, warning not to tell patients the risks of anesthesia.

Such a rhetorical question was not, apparently, clear enough for UC Irvine. According to the LA times, Dr. Sean Cao, at the time the only UCI transplant surgeon, actually wrote an email regarding talking to potential transplant patients. Dr. Cao apparently distributed a confidential memo that stated "Anyone who spreads the rumors [that he was turning down organs] ," would be subject to discipline for "professional misconduct" and held "liable, especially if the patients … find out something and decide to take legal action."

The thing is that these "rumors" were apparently true. In 2003, UCI performed just 8 liver transplants, as opposed to the minimum of 18 required by the state to maintain certification, or the minimum of 12 transplants required by the feds. Only 16.2% of patients who had joined the waiting list between July 1998 and June 2001 had received a liver three years later, as opposed to the nationwide average of 42% of patients who got a liver within three years. In any case, I find it interesting that UCI, in the person of Dr. Cao, threatened staff in writing with "liability" if "patients … find out something and decide to take legal action." Wow. Simply wow.

In my last post (the one just below this one) I mentioned how remarkable it was that none of the UCI empoyees happened to mention to "transplant" patients that there was no transplant surgeon generaly available from July 2004 onwards. (Dr. Cao left the program, and was not replaced, so UCI had no full-time transplant surgeon. Transplant candidates were not notified, however.) I think that this memo might indicate the source of the problem. After all, what sort of highly educated, trained, and mobile professionals would stay with the program after getting those sorts of email threats? For that matter, what sort of people would stay working at UCI after the long string of scandals? Answer to both questions: the sort of people who are working there right now. Related answer to both questions: largely the sort of people who will be there as the next scandal occurs. I think that says a lot.

4 comments:

Blu said...

This all seems so out of character for a surgeon who performed my Kidney/Pancreas transplant surgery at Loma Linda in Sep of 98. He sincerely was concerned about my well being and the problematic complications I had after the surgery. Sep 28th 2007 marks my 9 year re-birthday. Still insulin free and a creatinen level of 1.2 I owe my life and happiness to this gentleman. He went above and beyond. He carried a firm stern face, but I know he was a softy under it all. He was a fine human being. It truly bothers me that good surgeons are forced into bad decisions by money hungry university leaders. This man even took the time to debread my wound, when the nurses could have done the same.

Blu said...

This all seems so out of character for a surgeon who performed my Kidney/Pancreas transplant surgery at Loma Linda in Sep of 98. He sincerely was concerned about my well being and the problematic complications I had after the surgery. Sep 28th 2007 marks my 9 year re-birthday. Still insulin free and a creatinen level of 1.2 I owe my life and happiness to this gentleman. He went above and beyond. He carried a firm stern face, but I know he was a softy under it all. He was a fine human being. It truly bothers me that good surgeons are forced into bad decisions by money hungry university leaders. This man even took the time to debread my wound, when the nurses could have done the same.

mollypurses said...

I truly think Dr. Cao is a very sincere man. My father just had surgery this October and he took really good care of my father, he made sure our families knows what is going on with my father, Like comment #2 said, he take his time taking care of their wounds, when the nurse could of done that...I totally agree with blu, it's good to hear you're doing well,Blu. Also my father got right back on his feet within 3 days after the major surgery, what can I say? this guy got skills and I like his firm stern face too...as long as he treat his patient, how they are suppose to be treated...and are well better...then before...

mollypurses said...

NEVER JUDGE THE BOOKS BY IT COVERS,
THOUGH HE ALWAYS HAD A SERIOUS LOOKING FACE, OR IS BECAUSE THE WAY HE SPEAK IS LIKE THE WAY HE LOOKS, BUT WHAT MATTER IS HIS RESPECTFUL HEART.


I agree with Blu! My father just had surgery with Dr. Cao this October 2007, My family see that he's very concern and sincere to his patients. He was back on his feet within 2 days after the major surgery, this guy got skills, that's probably is... the problem, there's always competitors out there that would love to fight to be the top of the top. I didn't read the whole story of what happen but I can see in his eyes that he's not a bad man...We should pay more attention to our family physician then our surgeons...If we have good physician that follow up on us then lesser chance we have to go through surgery...example, my dad could of got away with this major surgery and wouldn't need a liver transplant if his family physician and gastro dr. follow up and control his hepatitis B. like they suppose to.