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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Doctor Says He Was Fired & Spied On|For Objecting to Ethical Tap Dance

BOSTON (CN) - A doctor at Boston's renowned Lahey Clinic Hospital says he was fired after he voiced concerns about the financial relationship between the hospital and Medtronic. Dr. David Gossman claims Medtronic offered the hospital "access to the CoreValve, a new heart valve that will be in clinical trials in the U.S. soon, predicated on the purchase and increased utilization of other products made by Medtronic" - an offer he says violates ethical guidelines.

Gossman claims in Middlesex County Court that Medtronic made the offer this summer to Dr. Thomas Piemonte, who Gossman says "has significant financial interest in Medtronic."

Piemonte is director of Interventional Cardiology and the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at the hospital and also derives a "substantial yearly income" serving on the Medtronic Speakers Bureau, Gossman says.

The Speakers Bureau is a program in which doctors use prepared materials to explain Medtronic's drugs and medical products to colleagues. Gossman says Piemonte's wife has had a "lengthy employment" with Medtronic and holds stock in the company.

Gossman claims Piemonte and the chairman of the Cardiology Department, Dr. Richard Nesto, pressured other doctors at the hospital to increase use of Medtronic products, and told a new doctor that her low use rate of the Medtronic heart stents jeopardized the hospital's access to cutting-edge medical technologies.

Gossman says he suffered retaliation for voicing his ethical objections.

He says Piemonte and Nesto fired him from his post as assistant director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab on Sept. 8, just days after he had attended a lecture about the board that oversees the ethical conduct of medical research at the hospital.

At the lecture, Gossman says he posed the hypothetical question, "If a medical device company approaches a hospital offering access to a new investigational device, but predicates access to the device on increased utilization of other products sold by the company, what would be the position of the IRB regarding this arrangement?"

Later that day, Gossman says, Piemonte and Nesto sought negative feedback about him from nursing staff and technicians, then went to the Human Resources Department to try to get him fired.

Gossman says his colleagues were instructed not to talk with him after he was fired and were prohibited from using Lahey Clinic letterhead to write letters of recommendation for him. He also claims a private investigator was sent to watch him at his residence.

Gossman, who had worked at the hospital since 1987, seeks damages for defamation and violations of the Massachusetts Healthcare Whistleblower Act.

He is represented by Patricia Washienko with Wagner Cook Freiberger & Washienko.

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