Cardiologist Who Accused Famed Surgeon of Misconduct Is Fired by Northwestern University

Northwestern University has dismissed the cardiologist who raised troubling questions about Patrick McCarthy, its star cardiac surgeon.

The controversy began in 2008 when Nalini Rajamannan, an assistant professor of medicine, accused McCarthy of implanting in one of her patients an experimental annuloplasty ring, the Myxo ring, manufactured by Edwards Lifesciences. McCarthy, who had invented the device, implanted it without obtaining the patient’s consent, and Edwards was accused of circumventing the FDA approval process. The incident eventually led to investigations by the FDA and a US senate committee, and was covered extensively by TheHeart.Org, the Wall Street Journal, and the Chicago Tribune.

Prior to being fired, Northwestern had eliminated Rajamannan’s clinical privileges and turned down her application for tenure, according to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required to read full article). Northwestern claims Rajamannan was dismissed only because she had been denied tenure. Rajamannan, however, contends that she was fired because she uncovered evidence from a patient’s ECG recording that one of McCarthy’s patients had an MI shortly after surgery, contrary to McCarthy’s published claim that no patients had had an MI.

Rajamannan told the Chronicle that when she first spoke about the incident with Robert Bonow, who was then the chief of cardiology at Northwestern, he said to her: “You don’t cross Pat McCarthy… We’re going to separate you, so don’t pursue this.” Bonow told the Chronicle he did not want to respond “without first consulting his lawyer.”

Rajamannan told CardioBrief that “the recognition of a myocardial infarction at the time of treatment is critical.” She pointed out that the surgery associated with the MI took place in November 2006 but the MI was not reported to the patient by the hospital until August 2011 in a court document. She said that 665 patients “still have the device and have not been informed by the hospital, nor the FDA that it was investigational at the time of the implant.”

Comments

  1. Northwestern has just reinforced the old culture of medicine as it relates to whistle-blowers. Is there any question as to why nurses do not report errors? This is an injustice the Healthcare Profession.

  2. very sad story, medical professin must better address mistakes, complications, transparency- we can not keep our mistakes and such in the shadows, have to be forthcoming and not blame trial lawyers for our secrecy and paranoid behavior. it would also help if our healthcare system reimbursed for maintaining health and not doing stuff

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  1. […] A Northwestern University cardiologist was fired after speaking up about the misdeeds of a famous surgeon. Larry Husten at CardioBrief explains what […]

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