Sunday, April 30, 2017

"Gross dereliction of duty." "Repeatedly lying." But you're a doctor. We'll let you keep your job.

From The Toronto Star:

Fifteen years before scandal engulfed the Hospital for Sick Children’s Motherisk lab, SickKids, by its own acknowledgment, had every right to fire the doctor in the middle of it all.

In late 1999, Dr. Gideon Koren was identified as the author of “poison pen letters” sent to SickKids doctors and the media during a heated dispute with a whistleblower colleague, Dr. Nancy Olivieri. For months, Koren had denied writing the anonymous letters that disparaged Olivieri and her four supporters as “a group of pigs,” among other insults.

He confessed only after DNA testing provided irrefutable proof. “Your actions constitute gross misconduct and provide sufficient grounds for dismissal,” the former presidents of SickKids and the University of Toronto wrote in an April 2000 decision following a disciplinary hearing on Koren, whom they upbraided for “repeatedly lying” and showing a “reckless dereliction of duty.”

But, citing his research achievements and the many young doctors he supervised, who they said would be “disproportionately disadvantaged” if Koren were fired, they instead docked him two months’ pay, fined him $35,000 and continued his suspension until June 1, 2000. Koren remained head of the Motherisk Program he founded in 1985.

The Motherisk scandal has cast doubt over thousands of child protection decisions across Canada that relied on the hair-testing lab’s flawed drug and alcohol tests, and prompted a re-examination of some of the program’s influential research on drug safety in pregnancy.

It has also raised questions about the hospital’s decision to stand by Koren, which suggests “the institution valued image over the safety of patients,” said SickKids doctor Brenda Gallie, who was among Olivieri’s defenders.

The rest is here.

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