UC Investigation Finds Hospital Misled Regulators
An investigation by the University of California confirmed allegations that officials at UC-Irvine Medical Center misled regulators about staffing in its liver transplant program, according to a summary report released on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reports. The hospital closed its liver transplant program in November 2005 after problems were revealed.
The report finds that at a meeting in July 2004, UCIMC officials told a panel of the United Network for Organ Sharing that they had hired a full-time transplant surgeon to oversee the program. However, the surgeon -- Marquis Hart -- worked only part time at UCIMC, while serving as the director of the abdominal transplant program at UC-San Diego Medical Center 90 miles away (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 2/8).
The UC Office of the General Counsel's report states that "UCI representatives did not openly and transparently disclose all aspects of the agreements" to UNOS, as an application submitted three weeks prior to the meeting "indicated that Dr. Hart would be spending 100% of his professional time at UCI" (Knap, Orange County Register, 2/8).
The report also cites a December 2004 letter from Hart to UNOS that said he had been "physically on site at UCI." According to the report, the letter "did not accurately reflect that Dr. Hart was not always on site at UCI during the prior four months and that he remained very much involved in the transplant program at UCSD Medical Center" (Los Angeles Times, 2/8).
There is "[n]o evidence" that UCI School of Medicine Dean Thomas Cesario "was involved in or understood the significance of any decision about communications to UNOS," the investigation found (Orange County Register, 2/8).
Although Cesario was present when some of the misrepresentations occurred, he "was not a major participant in the meeting" and was there only to support the liver transplant staff, according to UCI spokesperson Susan Menning (Los Angeles Times, 2/8).