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Radiologist’s Suit Says Criticism Got Him Fired

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The former chief radiologist at Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, California (north of San Francisco), says he was fired after publicly criticizing another hospital’s policy about where to send stroke patients. He has filed a lawsuit asking that he get his job back and be awarded unspecified damages.

The radiologist, Chad Goodman, MD, worked for California Advanced Imaging Medical Associates (CAIMA), which supplies radiologists to Marin General as well as to several Sutter Health hospitals, including Novato Community Hospital in Novato and California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.

Dr. Goodman told the Marin Independent Journal newspaper that in April 2010, he was told that a stroke patient at Novato Community would be coming to Marin General, about 14 miles away, for treatment. Instead, the patient was sent to California Pacific, almost twice as far away. Dr. Goodman said Susan Bradshaw, MD, the emergency department physician at Novato who sent the patient to California Pacific, told him that Novato had instituted a policy of sending stroke patients to California Pacific, bypassing Marin General.

Both Marin General and California Pacific are primary stroke centers. A CT scan of the patient had revealed basilar artery thrombosis, and Dr. Goodman had received special training to handle such cases.

In his lawsuit, Dr. Goodman says the transfer policy was adopted in anticipation of Sutter Health’s giving up control of Marin General to the Marin Healthcare District at the end of June.

Dr. Goodman was quoted as criticizing the policy in the May 18 edition of the Independent Journal. Almost immediately, according to the lawsuit, CAIMA suspended his privileges. On May 25, the suit says, he was summoned to a meeting at CAIMA and asked to recant his “patient advocacy.”

Instead, the suit says, Dr. Goodman “repeated to the group that it was a violation of their duty to provide the best possible medical care for patients to transport stroke victims from Novato all the way into San Francisco.”

Immediately after the meeting, the suit says, CAIMA fired Dr. Goodman.

Sutter Health officials have said no such blanket transfer policy ever existed. Timothy Gee, MD, vice president of medical affairs at Novato Community, said transfer decisions are handled “on a case by case basis.” Dr. Bradshaw, the emergency department physician who Dr. Goodman says told him about the policy, declined to comment to the Independent Journal.

Felix Adler, MD, another CAIMA radiologist, performed the CT scan on the stroke patient at Novato Community. He told the Independent Journal that he had assumed the patient would go to Marin General and had called Dr. Goodman to give him a heads-up. Dr. Adler said Dr. Bradshaw then told him about the transfer policy bypassing Marin General.

Related seminar: National Diagnostic Imaging Symposium

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