University Finds UCSD Doc Negligent

    The UC General Counsel criticized a UCSD doctor for being negligent in his duties at a sister transplant program at UC Irvine, which was shut down after several patients died waiting for donated organs.

    In the report, the university’s lawyers concluded that officials from the United Network for Organ Sharing, which provide organs for patients, were misled to believe that Marquis Hart would be physically present at UC Irvine, although he kept his full-time position at UCSD and spent much of his working time here.

    Statements made by Irvine representatives, as well as former Irvine Medical Center CEO Ralph Cygan, were a large part of the miscommunication, the report stated. Specifically, Cygan authorized Hart’s personnel forms, which indicated that he would be spending all his professional time at the Irvine site.

    However, the Irvine Medical Center lacked a full-time liver-transplant surgeon between August 2004 and December 2005, which forced the program to reject livers that could have been used for patients on the hospital’s transplant waiting list.

    More than 30 patients died while waiting for new livers, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

    Hart was booted from his administrative post at UCSD earlier this month, but still works as a member of the transplant program as a full-time surgeon.

    The UC Irvine program contracted Hart and UCSD surgeon Ajai Khanna to assist in the exchange program, in which UCSD surgeons would travel to Irvine whenever needed.

    Hart was signed on to serve 40 to 60 hours a month as an administrator of the Irvine program, the report stated. Contract discussions had included housing possibilities for the surgeons in Irvine, as well as transportation to the hospital.

    While the Irvine Medical Center did not believe the distance between the Irvine and San Diego sites would have a major impact on the surgeons’ presence during transplants, the extent of required duties were not specified during contract discussions.

    UCSD attorney Robert Rose, who had represented Hart as of last month, told the Union-Tribune that the surgeon was trying to consolidate the two programs so that he could participate full-time, but could not execute the plan because Irvine would not pay for his relocation expenses.

    “The university has concluded that UCI representatives were not wholly accurate in describing the surgical coverage for the UCI liver transplant program,” according to a UC General Counsel report on the UCSD Medical Center.

    The release of the university’s report and Hart’s removal followed Cygan’s resignation on Jan. 31. Irvine’s transplant program was shut down in November under pressure from federal regulators.

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