A discrimination lawsuit filed by a medical assistant and two cardiologists attributes a 2009 patient death to substandard care. Furthermore, the suit alleges that the level of substandard care was permitted to continue because they were "ignored, embarrassed, or terminated" for reporting problem.
The suit, filed against Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in California, alleges that after Dr. Geeta Singh suggested that a patient undergo a cardiac catherization rather than a stress test due to his history of heart attack. The patient was given a stress test and later died. After Singh and administrative assistant Theresa Walker submitted a report of substandard care to TJC, they claim that they were ignored by other members of the staff and abused through e-mail.
Dr. Kai Ihnken is also a plaintiff in the suit, alleging that administrators denied him the ability to perform cardiac surgery, leading to the patient's death. After reporting the incident, he claims that he was slandered and his contract was not renewed.
The Santa Clara County Executive stated that examiners have found no direct link indicating that negligence caused the patients' deaths; however, he did acknowledge that the hospital's cardiac department was prone to conflict and arguments.
This pending case sheds light on the importance of maintaining professional working relationships among members. It also calls on hospitals to look at their staff culture and to see if employees and members of the medical staff are provided with a comfortable environment that allows them to speak up if they witness an adverse event.