NAVY: Outspoken Medical Investigator Ousted
A doctor who went public with his findings that the U.S. Navy may have misdiagnosed hundreds of sailors exposed to potentially lethal silica dust was fired Monday for insubordination, the AP/Los Angeles Times reports. Dr. Philip Jajosky, a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Public Health Service at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, was "ordered to pack up his belongings and leave his office" after an investigation into the matter. The termination, characterized as an "involuntary retirement," comes more than two months after closed hearings on the matter in which Jajosky "raised a red flag" regarding the Navy's diagnosis of a patient's lung ailment. The patient's original diagnosis was sarcoidosis, a rare lung disorder with no known cause. After reviewing the case, Jajosky changed the diagnosis to silicosis, a chronic respiratory disease caused by inhaling silica, a hard glassy material found on the decks of aircraft carriers. The patient, Jajosky maintained, helped scrape the adhesive textile off of the decks of carriers in the 1970s and as a result acquired the lung ailment. Jajosky submitted his findings to the Navy, which led to a Veterans Affairs recommendation that its 172 medical centers perform "detailed medical histories on affected sailors." If confirmed, the remanded diagnoses could have "enormous financial ramifications for the Navy." Jajosky says the conclusions of his research cost him his job and said, "I didn't just pop up on the scene and say, 'I'm going to raise hell.' Everything was fine in my career until I got involved in this investigation." He contends that he was "denied medical pay, passed over for promotions, humiliated and stripped of power." Jajosky argued that he was obligated to keep troops healthy and said, "I consider that a basic conservative public health issue" (Smith, 12/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.