OMAHA — Two Omaha surgeons filed a lawsuit Friday against Children's Hospital & Medical Center, alleging that they were wrongfully suspended and forced to resign privileges there after they raised concerns about matters of patient safety.
In the suit, Dr. Jason Miller and Dr. Mark Puccioni allege that the hospital suspended their privileges to practice there after raising concerns about the death of a seven-month-old during an operation this fall. That operation was performed by another surgeon.
In their communications, according to the suit, the two also questioned the other surgeon's skills and competence.
The lawsuit also names as defendants Dr. Richard Azizkhan, Children's president and CEO, and the other surgeon.
Children's could not be reached immediately Friday for a response.
[Read more: Nebraska Medical Association raises concerns about patient care, safety at Children's Hospital]
Miller is a board-certified plastic surgeon with training in craniofacial plastic surgery who has held privileges for more than 10 years at several area hospitals. Puccioni, a board-certified pediatric neurosurgeon, has had privileges at several Omaha-area hospitals for more than 17 years. The two surgeons for years have operated together on patients who require both of their specialties.
The lawsuit comes weeks after the Nebraska Medical Association sent a letter to the board of Children’s Hospital expressing concerns about “patient care, safety and quality” at the Omaha hospital, in addition to the loss of longtime physicians.
In the Dec. 11 letter, the president of the group, Dr. Britt Thedinger, wrote, “We as physicians are concerned about the summary suspensions, terminations and resignations of long-time outstanding physician colleagues." The letter also expressed concern that children were being transferred to outside institutions because of "complications" and inadequate staffing at the Omaha hospital.
Thedinger declined to elaborate on those concerns and said Thursday he had not received an official response from Children's to the letter.
In response to The World-Herald regarding the letter, Azizkhan of Children's said in a Thursday statement that the hospital is committed to recruiting specialty physicians and that the “positive impact (Children’s) is having on the health of children in our region has never been greater.”
Azizkhan also said that hospital officials could not discuss personnel matters. “We can say that from time to time physicians will make decisions based on their individual circumstances."