Lawsuit Alleges Negligence at UCIMC Liver Transplant Program
Three people on Monday filed a lawsuit against the University of California-Irvine Medical Center alleging negligence, fraud and conspiracy following a CMS investigation that found more than 30 patients at UCIMC died awaiting liver transplants after the hospital turned down organ donations because of staffing shortages, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports (Flaccus, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 11/14).
An Aug. 5 report found that UCIMC received 122 liver offers between August 2004 and July 2005 but that only 12 were transplanted, including two livers to the same patient because the first one failed. The report found that, for the past three years, the hospital has not met federal requirements that at least 12 transplants be performed annually or federal requirements for transplant survival rates (California Healthline, 11/11).
The lawsuit alleges that UCIMC officials did not inform patients that the medical center had not had a full-time liver transplant surgeon since June 2003. The suit also alleges that doctors at the hospital conspired to perform surgeries that would generate "more prestige, more patients, more profit and more research funding" than transplants (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 11/14).
The class-action lawsuit, filed by attorney Lawrence Eisenberg, claims the UCI officials improperly rejected livers and did not tell patients that the "vast majority of UCI transplant patients would never receive a liver transplant at UCI" (Yoshino, Los Angeles Times, 11/15).
UCI spokesperson Tom Vasich on Monday said university officials had not seen the lawsuit and would not comment on it (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 11/14).
UCI Chancellor Michael Drake at a meeting with medical students and staff on Monday said he will meet with the UC Board of Regents on Wednesday to address the allegations (Edds, Orange County Register, 11/15).
Headlines and links for other newspaper articles addressing the UCIMC liver transplant program are provided below.
- "UC Irvine Could Be Liable Again" (Lobdell/Trounson, Los Angeles Times, 11/12).
- "How a Liver Unit Failed" (Zarembo/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 11/12).
- "Needing Livers, Needing Answers" (Garvey, Los Angeles Times, 11/13).
- "Closure of UCI Liver Program Shifts 100-Plus Patients Elsewhere" (Flaccus, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 11/12).