Former MercyOne cardio director claims she was fired for reporting surgeon

Sioux City, Iowa-based MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center's former cardiovascular director is suing the hospital in state court, alleging she was fired for reporting safety and malpractice concerns about a heart surgeon, the Sioux City Journal reported Aug. 30.

Cynthia Tener, RN, said she reported concerns about the surgeon allegedly failing to get proper consent from patients, the report said. Ms. Tener alleges the surgeon also falsified paperwork and operated on patients in an unsafe manner.

She claims her reporting of the surgeon to the hospital's ethics committee was a determining factor in her firing, the report said. Administrators allegedly told her she was fired for creating a toxic work environment, but allegedly did not provide any information about complaints against her.

"MercyOne stands by our cardiac services program, and our commitment to safe, quality care is steadfast alongside our commitment to the fair and valued treatment of colleagues, physicians and providers. As this is an active legal matter, we are unable to provide further comment," Michaela Feldmann, MercyOne regional communications lead, told the Sioux City Journal in an emailed statement.

A federal judge dismissed a previous suit brought by Ms. Tener for the same claims. In the dismissal, he ruled that the suit did not provide enough factual evidence to show the sole basis for firing her was retaliation. The judge said she would be better off filing the suit in state court, the report said.

Ms. Tener said nurses and another physician brought concerns about the heart surgeon to her, saying the surgeon was performing risky procedures without obtaining proper consent from patients, the report said. She said concerns were also raised that the surgeon was performing an excessive amount of add-on procedures.

On one occasion, the surgeon allegedly opened a patient without other treating physicians present and did not adhere to the surgical plan he, the patient and the other physicians agreed to, the report said. The patient died shortly after surgery.

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