Dr. James Holsapple, a prominent neurosurgeon was illegally forced out of his previous job at a New York Hospital, according to a judge. Holsapple blew the whistle on the practice of “double-booking” surgeons – where a senior, more competent surgeon would essentially oversee two junior surgeons. These junior surgeons perform the “bulk” of the surgery, while the senior surgeon shuffles between operating rooms and oversees the operations.
In this instance, Dr. Ross Moquin, a specialist in complex spine surgery was hired in 2006. Dr. Moquin was given permission to “routinely oversee two simultaneous surgeries in adjoining rooms.” Holsapple “raised immediate concerns” because he believed that the assisting surgeons were insufficiently qualified and that if there were to be any complications in the surgery, Moquin may be delayed in the other operating room and unable to assist with the surgery.
After Holsapple continuously raised concerns, the chairman of the neurosurgery department, Dr. Walter Hall reportedly said, “I’m tired of your complaints.” Hall then reduced Holsapple’s salary and minimized his responsibilities – by reducing his number of appointments, and demoting his position as residence coordinator, assurance officer, and pediatric surgeon. Holsapple left Syracuse (or, was pushed out, depending on whom is asked) in 2009 for Boston.
As the case finally wound through the courts, Holsapple was recently awarded $88,277 in lost wages – a number that could be as high as $150,000 when interest is included. Furthermore, Holsapple has been vindicated over his concerns for “double-booking” surgeries. According to the Boston Globe, many hospitals have now restricted so-called concurrent surgery, and the United States Senate Finance Committee has begun investigations with the ultimate aim to curb the practice. In addition, the State Board of Registration in Medicine is now requiring that surgeons document each time they enter or leave an operating room, as well as identify any other medical personal who will help with the procedures. This information will be required as part of a patient’s informed consent – so each patient will be aware and have the opportunity to decline “double-booking” surgeons.