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D.C. public hospital’s operator fires CMO in possible whistleblower case

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Julian Craig, M.D.,  the chief medical officer at United Medical Center, the District of Columbia’s only public hospital,  has been fired by Veritas, which has had a contract to operate the hospital. The firing came after he provided key testimony about patient-safety issues at the facility.

City Council members expressed concern about the hospital board’s actions, according to the article. Craig’s lawyer, Debra Katz, told The Washington Post that the firing is “absolutely chilling for whistleblowers” and that  Dr. Craig is looking into suing.

“This looks like classic retaliation to me,” council member Mary Cheh, one of seven council members who voted to end Veritas’s contract, told The Post.

The newspaper reported that the council voted to terminate Veritas’s contract by Nov. 30, but the paper said, the UMC board voted to extend it by up to 60 days while it searches for a  new operator.

The Post continued: “At a Nov. 3 hearing of the council’s health committee, Craig made an unheralded appearance to accuse Veritas of improperly cutting his hours and disregarding hospital programs designed to ensure patient safety. He also alleged that Veritas employee Luis Hernandez encouraged doctors to admit patients who did not need treatment in an effort to boost revenue.

“Veritas owner Chrystie Boucrée has denied those allegations, saying in a letter to the chairwoman of the hospital board that they are part of a ‘remarkably self-serving and false narrative’ designed to aid Craig in a legal dispute with hospital managers.

“She said Veritas was not responsible for cuts to hospital personnel that Craig said had diminished the hospital’s safeguards for quality of care, and that an investigation by an ‘independent legal team’  had cleared Hernandez of wrongdoing. Hospital officials have not responded to The Washington Post’s requests for records of that investigation.”

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