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Home / Harvard Medical School

Doctor blames LA County for his alleged retaliatory firing

A former Harbor-UCLA Medical Center physician who alleges he was wrongfully fired in 2018 for exposing alleged wrongdoing in the treatment of patients told a jury that Los Angeles County deserves the primary blame.

Dr. Timothy Ryan sued the county in Los Angeles Superior Court in January 2016, alleging retaliation under the state Health and Safety Code. The plaintiff, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, since 2013 had served as the staff vascular surgeon at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, which is owned and managed by Los Angeles County.

In testimony Tuesday before a jury, Ryan said the county allowed a group of doctors to “run roughshod over me and make every day harder than it had to be … to the point I could not do my job.”

In response to his exposing of alleged wrongdoing, the county “didn’t do the slightest investigation to see if what I said had merit,” Ryan testified.

In their court papers, lawyers for the county state that Ryan was discharged because his medical staff privileges had lapsed.

According to Ryan’s suit, in 2014 he was asked to take part in what he believed as an unnecessary surgery on a patient for the benefit of a third- party medical device maker.

Although the patient was treated in 2013 with drugs and allowed to go home after she no longer was having symptoms, Ryan believes White and his subordinates convinced the woman to check into the hospital emergency room and falsely report she had chest pains, the suit alleges.

Dr. Rodney White asked Ryan to take part in the procedure involving the patient, but he refused in the belief it would have required him to “conspire to perform a medically unnecessary surgery,” according to the complaint.

The surgery on the patient went ahead anyway after she was talked into signing a consent form, the suit alleges. While undergoing the procedure, she suffered complications that resulted in her having problems communicating orally and in writing, according to the plaintiff.

Ryan reported his concerns about the treatment of the patient and other alleged compromises of patient care to the hospital’s senior faculty, the California Medical Board and the District Attorney’s Office, the suit states.

White, along with others, began retaliating against Ryan in June 2014 by not referring cases to him, by marginalizing the plaintiff within his department, by removing his name from a research project and by filing a “frivolous” lawsuit against him in July 2015, Ryan’s suit alleges.

Ryan, who was fired in October 2018, alleges the hospital knew he was being subjected to a backlash for coming forward with his concerns about patient care, but failed to protect him. He testified Tuesday that the retaliation began as soon as he came forward with is concerns.

Ryan has suffered a loss of referrals and has been unable to advance his career since his firing, according to his suit.

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