Hey, it Could Happen to Anyone

REPEAT AFTER ME: “I was performing the most critical aspect of the procedure.”

I can see a tense session in a conference room between Calkins and his lawyer just before his deposition. He’s not used to being grilled and he’s nervous.

“I was performing the most critical aspect of the procedure…”

Hopkins is very determined to keep Dr. Wu out of the picture. They do not want people to get the idea that they are running some kind of research mill up there and letting rookies pinch-hit for the big names that pull in the customers. It could be a money thing. They’ve already made the Federal Contractor Misconduct Database for doing just that:

“According to the allegations, Johns Hopkins submitted or caused the submission of false claims to the Medicare program on behalf of certain faculty physicians employed by the university without documentation to show that these physicians were personally involved in providing the services claimed by JHU. Instead, the government contends these services were actually delivered by an intern or resident of the teaching hospital.”

Aside from defrauding the government, Hopkins is like other businesses in this way. Johnny Cochrane makes the pitch to you, but once you sign on the dotted line, your case is handled by lesser lights.

So Calkins haltingly recites the company line:

“The most critical aspects of the procedure I was performing. At the time of the…  I was performing the critical aspect of the procedure, the most critical aspect of the procedure, deciding… where to give the energy, how much to give, when to stop burning and that was the aspect of of the procedure that I, as the attending physician, was doing… I was performing the most critical aspect of the procedure.”

A lawyer asks if maybe corkscrewing a catheter into the left ventricle might be considered a critical aspect of the procedure.

“Same complication could’ve happened if I was going to play with the catheter. I have no reason to believe that was something attributable to Dr. Wu versus myself manipulating the catheter. It’s something inherent in having the catheter in the heart.”

This from a guy who professed quite a bit of surprise when it did happen.

Whether or not Hugh Calkins had any reason to believe that he, a twenty year veteran, would not have made the rookie mistake of turning the catheter knob the wrong way, he had no right to deceive my wife about who was going to be playing with the catheter that day…

http://oig.hhs.gov/publications/docs/press/2003/021403release.pdf

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