Surgeon left OR to eat in car — then fell asleep: regulators

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Surgeon left OR to eat in car -- then fell asleep: regulators

A prominent Boston surgeon ditched a patient in an operating room to have lunch in his car — and then fell asleep and missed the surgery, state regulators found.

Dr. Tony Tannoury, head of spine surgery at Boston Medical Center, admitted to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine to missing the emergency ankle surgery in November 2016, the Boston Globe reported Wednesday.

Tannoury, who took the patient into the operating room as the attending surgeon, then left the hospital and “bought something to eat in his parked car and fell asleep in the vehicle,” according to a consent order released Monday.

Tannoury, 54, didn’t come back until the next day and a chief resident ultimately performed the operation he was scheduled to oversee. He was fined $5,000 for undermining the “public confidence in the integrity of the medical profession,” according to the ruling.

He was also ordered to complete “professionalism” courses and review regulations for supervisors, according to the state board.

Boston Medical Center officials reported the incident to the state board, a hospital spokeswoman told the Globe, adding that they were “fully transparent” with the patient about who conducted the operation.

“The surgical outcome was positive,” BMC spokeswoman Jenny Eriksen Leary told the Globe.

The hospital also waived all fees in the operation, medical board records show.

Dr. Tony Tannoury, head of spine surgery at Boston Medical Center, admitted to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine to missing the emergency ankle surgery in November 2016
Dr. Tony Tannoury, head of spine surgery at Boston Medical Center.
Courtesy of Boston Medical Center

Tannoury has been the head of spinal surgery at the Boston University School of Medicine, which is affiliated with BMC, since 2006, according to his LinkedIn page. He did not return requests for comment, the Globe reported Wednesday.

The president of the Society for Patient Centered Orthopedics, meanwhile, blasted Tannoury’s conduct as deplorable while saying the reprimand he received was far too light.

“That’s just the proverbial slap on the wrist,” Dr. James Rickert, an orthopedic surgeon from Indiana, told the Globe. “I can’t believe that if that was a board composed mostly of patients that they wouldn’t have had a much harsher penalty.”

The director of the five-member board comprised of four physicians said BMC first contacted the agency in January 2017, some two months later.

A “number of factors” led to the matter taking nearly five years to lead to disciplinary action, executive director George Zachos told the Globe.

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