Brain surgery patient left in OR after doc no-show

May 10, 2009 By FRANK ELTMAN , Associated Press Writer

(AP) -- One of the highest-paid doctors in New York refused to perform brain surgery on an already-anesthetized patient whose scheduled surgeon had failed to show up, and the state health department is investigating.

The surgeon who refused, Dr. Thomas Milhorat, is retiring as chairman of neurosurgery at North Shore University Hospital-Long Island Jewish Medical Center, the hospital said Friday in a statement.

The hospital suspended his and Dr. Paolo Bolognese's clinical practice privileges for two weeks after the cancellation of the April 10 surgery. The hospital said the 73-year-old Milhorat had already been considering retirement and will continue academic and research activities.

The suspensions expired this week, but neither Milhorat nor Bolognese have commented because they are attending a medical conference in Italy. Neither physician has responded to an e-mail request for comment.

Claire Pospisil, a spokeswoman for the state Health Department, confirmed the situation was being investigated.

The unidentified patient was under anesthesia, head shaved, but the 48-year-old Bolognese could not be found, the Daily News of New York reported on Wednesday, citing sources it did not identify.

Staffers contacted Milhorat, who refused to do the surgery because the woman was not his patient. A North Shore spokesman said the woman later had successful surgery.

Crain's New York, a leading business publication, identified Milhorat and Bolognese as among the New York City area's top medical earners in 2007, with Milhorat taking in $7.2 million and Bolognese earning $2.4 million.

They help run North Shore's Chiari Institute, which draws patients worldwide who have a rare congenital brain defect that can cause headaches, dizziness and other pain. It wasn't clear whether the woman whose was canceled had the condition.

Dr. Lawrence Smith, chief medical officer for the North Shore-LIJ Health System, said in a statement that Milhorat "is widely regarded as one of the world's foremost experts on Chiari malformation, and his surgical expertise has benefitted thousands of patients around the world."

Milhorat joined the North Shore-LIJ Health System in 2002 and has been practicing medicine since 1961.

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©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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not rated yet May 10, 2009
Maybe because I come from Mars, I don't understand.

How do you force a doctor, who is not ready to operate, to operate? Wouldn't that be malpractice?

Now,I understand how a New York Post writer can do three articles without addressing this issue, but I would have thought there'd be some discussion here.
not rated yet May 10, 2009
So they're on paid vacation (that's basically what some conferences are) in Italy, and you didn't scream at them to get their asses home after this screwup?

I'd revoke all such perks and put them on probation for that behavior. At this point, they should reimburse their employer for their Italian conference costs.

And the 73-year-old is too old to be working at all. Send him home, so someone else can have a job.
not rated yet May 11, 2009
IMO, patient should be able to sue hosp for unnecessary sedation (as sedation is certainly not without risks and side affects), hosp could maybe sue doctor that didnt show up. other doctor seems justified in his action as procedure was apparently non-emergency.

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