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Rush University Medical Center Charged with Inadequate Surgical Care

The Chicago Tribune reports on a newly unsealed lawsuit which describes how medical professionals at the orthopedic department at Rush University Medical Center routinely sacrificed patient safety while violating Medicare billing rules.

The suit alleges that several medical doctors at Rush overbooked surgical procedures (sometimes several at the same time), allowing medical residents to perform the operations while unsupervised. The allegations go further, with one former medical resident admitting that one of the doctors, Mitchell Sheinkop, asked him to falsify the medical record to make it seem as if Dr. Sheinkop had actually been present when the operation occurred.

Medicare rules are clear on what level of care and oversight is required of medical residents. Specifically, the rules require the supervising physician to be in the room when critical portions of the operations are underway and to be physically able to assist the operation at any times.

Ultimately, failure to abide by these laws means that patient safety is sacrificed. As we have reported on this blog previously, nearly half of all medical errors are caused by inexperienced, untrained, and unsupervised medical residents. By allowing more new doctors to perform critical operations alone, the medical professionals at Rush were drastically increasing the risk of harm to their patients.

In fact, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) recently proposed new rules to guide the training of medical residents. The ACGME’s new regulations were in response to new data and years of concern that the current regulations were too lax, allowing untrained residents to work for too long and without guidance, ultimately leading to inadequate and deadly care for patients. Click Here to read more about the new proposed rules offered by ACGME.

However, this suit alleges that Rush’s orthopedic doctors were not even able to abide by the older, lax medical resident regulations. Essentially the doctors prioritized the monetary reward of packing in several surgeries at the same time over the proper care for each patient on the operating table.

Another doctor named in the suit, Brian Cole, performed two surgeries at the same time, being physically present at one and monitoring the other through video devices. Dr. Cole’s schedule on one day involved five surgeries starting within 2 and a half hours of each other, with one of the operations occurring in a different building.

The allegations in the suit paint a troubling picture of the orthopedic department at one of Chicago’s most well-known hospitals. Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti are well aware of the decisions made at hospitals like Rush that sacrifice patient care for monetary reward. Each medical patient, especially those undergoing risky surgical operations, deserves the full attention of the medical doctor to which they entrust their care. When that trust is violated, medical malpractice may have occurred. Please seek out a medical malpractice attorney if you were the victim of similar abuse.