Medical Tuesday Blog

A Review Of Local And Regional Medical Journals And Articles

May 22

Written by: Del Meyer
05/22/2017 5:35 AM 

Retaliation against a Physician Whistleblower

By Lawrence R. Huntoon, M.D., Ph.D. Editor, JAPS

Dr. Michael W. Fitzgibbons, an infectious diseases specialist and former chief of staff at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, California, is not a man who simply walks away and gives up, even in the face of grave injustices inflicted upon him and his family. But more than demonstrating his integrity, his story shows how far some hospital administrators will take retaliation against a physician whistle blower. We all have a stake in the integrity of our judicial system. Many would choose another course, but though

paying a high professional and personal price, and uncertain of any level of victory, Dr. Fitzgibbons chose to stay on the battlefield.

The battle was which ended on Feb 8, 2013. The details of what was done to Dr. Fitzgibbons are frightening and shocking. His story was detailed in a series of articles published by the , weekly newspaper for Orange County, California, published in Costa Mesa, which covered the story intensely.

In 2004, the financially struggling Tenet Healthcare Corp sought to sell four hospitals in southern California—Western Medical Center of Anaheim, Chapman Hospital in Orange County, Coastal Community Hospital in Santa Ana, and Western Medical Center of Santa Ana, the hospital where Dr. Fitzgibbons practiced.

Some physicians expressed concerns about the proposed purchaser, Dr. Kali P. Chaudhuri and his company, Integrated Healthcare Holdings, Inc. (IHHI).

According to an article published in , “Four years ago, Chaudhuri’s KPC holding company closed 81 Southern California medical clinics it had purchased just a year before. The closures stranded 300,000 patients without care and, in many cases, without medical records. Insurers and doctors scrambled to pick up the pieces. Asked to account for the chain’s assets, a bankruptcy judge said the money trail was too complicated to follow. The resulting charges of mismanagement, fraud, and diversion of assets led to dozens of lawsuits and thousands of creditor claims against Chaudhuri and KPC, most of them unsatisfied to this day.”

According to another article, “So vehemently do they oppose Chaudhuri’s takeover of the four Tenet hospitals that in October Fitzgibbons and fellow physicians took to the streets with picket signs. More than 70 doctors from the targeted hospitals formed their own acquisition group and offered Tenet a competing bid.”

At the urging of Fitzgibbons and other physicians, state Senator Joe Dunn convened hearings in 2004 that resulted in an agreement to limit the involvement of Dr. Chaudhuri in the takeover of the four hospitals.

Michael W. Fitzgibbons, M.D., vs. Integrated Healthcare Holdings, Inc., et al., OCWeekly


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.

Lawrence R. Huntoon, M.D., Ph.D. is a practicing neurologist and editor-in-chief

of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. Contact:

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