Hospital Uses Shocking Tactics to Retaliate against Physician Whistleblower, Reports Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons

Jun 19, 2013, 11:08 ET from Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)

TUCSON, Ariz., Jun 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- If a physician whistleblower dares to challenge the financial dealings of a powerful hospital, a defamation lawsuit may be only the beginning of his troubles, according to an account in the summer issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Dr. Michael Fitzgibbons won the lawsuit filed against him by Integrated Healthcare Holdings, Inc., which took over several hospitals in California. Fitzgibbons had distributed information about its financial situation to selected individuals. The information was in the public domain, but the hospital retaliated nonetheless.

The lawsuit itself caused Fitzgibbons serious financial troubles, as referring physicians were intimidated and turned against him. Then two weeks after it was dismissed, Fitzgibbons was arrested in the hospital parking lot because of false accusations that he had brandished a gun in a fabricated incident of road rage. Black gloves and a gun were planted in his car by operatives hired by the hospital, according to Court documents.

No charges were brought, but soon his tires were slashed by a method calculated to cause catastrophic failure at high speed. The resulting rollover while his daughter was driving the car on the freeway could have killed her and others.

Fitzgibbons was eventually awarded $5.7 million by a jury, but this was overturned by a judge who apparently has a conflict of interest. Authorities have so far declined to investigate the tire slashings uncovered by a forensic expert.

In the Journal article, Dr. Lawrence Huntoon reviews trial and deposition transcripts as well as reports by the OC Weekly, a newspaper that followed events intensely.

He concludes: "While the last chapter in this saga has yet to be written, physicians can learn from it the tremendous power of hospital cartels, and the ruthlessness they may display in retaliating against a physician who opposes them or exposes their wrongdoing."

The Journal is an official publication of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, which was founded in 1943.

SOURCE Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)