Dr. Colantonio's Experience at Mercy Hospital, Rockville Centre, Long Island, New York

Anthony Colantonio M.D., Fellow, American College of Surgeons

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Dr. Colantonio's Experience at Mercy Hospital, Rockville Centre, New York

If your hospital is not safe for your doctor, it is not safe for you. 

February 19, 2009
 
Dear Joint Commission,
 
Please accept this e-mail as a formal complaint regarding Mercy Hospital in Rockville Centre, New York.
 
In addition to a complaint, I am asking for advice and help from The Joint Commission with a situation that I am going through at Mercy Hospital in Rockville Centre. I am a victim of Sham Peer Review for "Blowing the Whistle" on poor patient care at Mercy Hospital and I need some advice on how to handle the violation of the Medical Staff Bylaws which is making it difficult for me to defend myself.
 
Sham Peer Review in retaliation for complaining about poor patient care threatens the basic foundation of the oath we take as physicians. Mercy Hospital bullies its medical and nursing staff into "looking away" when a serious quality of care concern surfaces.
 
On October 25, 2007, Mercy Hospital took retaliatory action against me because of my complaints about poor quality of care at the Hospital, which I detailed in writing on a nearly monthly basis from April 2007 through October 2007, in an attempt to notify the Administration of the problems at the Hospital, after nearly two years of verbally complaining and nothing being done. I am on a Leave of Absence while the Corrective Action Proceedings are "followed." Mercy Hospital continues to violate my Medical Staff rights by violating the Bylaws and I am being threatened with termination.
 
The original recommendation (November 2007) by the Mercy Hospital Credentials Committee was for suspension and evaluation by NY State OPMC. Then, on the same day that I was interviewed by The Joint Commission, December 11, 2007 (the interview was scheduled 12.10.07 following my original complaint on 12.3.07 - Complaint # 3899CXH-91022MHZ), the Medical Executive Committee, in retaliatory fashion, rejected the Credentials Committee recommendation and voted to recommend to terminate me. I was told by one of the members of the MEC that Administration was very upset about my report to The Joint Commission and insisted that I be terminated.   
 
I believe this retaliation is in violation of Joint Commission standards.
 
I believe the violation of Medical Staff Bylaws is in violation of Joint Commission standards.

 

My most serious complaint, which had reached the level of placing patients in immediate danger, was about poor and/or no supervision of Physician Assistants (P.A.'s) during life-threatening invasive procedures, lack of communication between PA‚€™s and Physicians, and lack of quality review of PA‚€™s.   Some of my other complaints had to do with nursing understaffing, nursing abuse, the use of inexperienced nurses in the ICU, the lack of nursing leadership in the ICU; lack of security and organization in the ER and OR; filth, dirt, and unsanitary conditions in the ER, ICU, and OR; inadequate and improper coverage of surgical patients; lack of supplies; lack of ancillary support; and failure of the quality review system.  

 

On October 8, 2007, four days after my last warning to the Hospital about this dangerous policy in the ICU, tragedy struck, and after the grossly negligent death of a young woman as a result of a pneumothorax caused by an unsupervised PA during an unnecessary central venous line placement (consent for which was invalid), followed by an improperly placed chest tube by the same unsupervised PA in the same patient, and failure to call a timely thoracic surgery consultation, the Hospital began to maliciously compile false complaints about my ‚€œdisruptive‚€Ě interpersonal relationships, in an attempt to discredit me because of their fear over how I would handle this death once I became aware of the tragedy. They have lied, created false documents, destroyed exculpatory documents, and have unethically, illegally, and maliciously prevented me from defending myself against these false allegations.

 

I had been on staff, and continuously in good standing, at Mercy Hospital since 1993. In 2006, I was selected Voluntary Physician of the Year for my work with RotoCare. From 2004 to 2007, I was instrumental in raising over $100,000.00 for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Mercy Hospital. I covered for many of the other surgeons who did not want to take ER call, I filled-in for the Surgery House Officers when no one was available to cover the hospital, and I was accepted as one of the few surgeons who taught the PA-students during their clinical rotations in surgery.

 

As a result of my complaints about Mercy Hospital, The Joint Commission and/or The New York State Department of Health have identified violations of PA supervision, PA-Physician communication, PA Quality Review, Staffing of Nurses, Hygiene and Infection Control, Patient‚€™s Rights, Medical Staff Credentialing, and Medical Staff Bylaws. New policies have been adopted at Mercy Hospital regarding PA supervision, PA-Physician communication, PA Quality Review, PA Credentialing, Physician reporting of improper PA patient care, staffing of nurses, physician credentialing, infection control, security, Patient‚€™s Rights, Bylaw implementation, and informed consent. My actions have helped save hundreds of lives and prevented thousands of injuries.

 

My Hospital Ad Hoc Hearing, which Mercy Hospital has improperly delayed by their lack of adherence to Hospital Bylaws, is scheduled to begin March 4, 2009. There are no Quality of Care issues that form the basis for the review. The issue that will be reviewed is my alleged "difficulty with interpersonal relationships;" however, my criticisms have always been offered in good faith, with the aim of improving patient care, and have always been conveyed in a polite and respectful manner. It is sad, and dangerous for patients, that Mercy Hospital Administration perceives communication of physician's concerns over patient care as "disruptive." 

 

I have attached a copy of (1) the Pre-Hearing Conference - 1.21.09; (2) the most recent letter from the attorney representing the Medical Executive Committee (Mr. Rosenberg 2.6.09); (3) the response from my attorney (Mr. Scher 2.11.09); and, (4) the rulings of the Chairperson of the Ad Hoc Committee (Dr. Greta Rainsford - Pediatrician - 2.12.09).

 

It is quite obvious from reading the transcript, and her rulings, that the Chairperson is being bullied by her attorney (who is employed by the hospital and also represents the hospital) and the attorney representing the MEC - the only other explanation, which I do not want to believe, would be her acceptance of the violations of the Medical Staff Bylaws and her condoning this Sham Peer Review and retaliation of a physician-colleague who is attempting to improve, and has improved, patient care.

 

Please advise what options are available to me, what help The Joint Commission has to offer, and what advice you are able to provide me with.

 

Please confirm receipt of this e-mail and acceptance of this complaint or, if not acceptable, information regarding how to go about properly filing this complaint.

 

Thank you very much in advance for your time and efforts.

 

Sincerely,

 

Anthony Colantonio, MD, FACS

General and Vascular Surgery of Long Island

Garden City, New York

 

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