Nurse says surgeon threw human tissue at her, sues hospital

  1. Nurse sues Memorial, claims surgeon threw human tissue at her
    Source: Colorado Springs Gazette
    A nurse has sued Memorial Hospital, charging that she was demoted after complaining about a heart surgeon tossing bloody tissue at her during an operation.

    The eight-page complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court by Sonja Morris alleges that Dr. Bryan Mahan tossed the 4-by-6-inch piece of tissue at her, hitting her on the leg during an open-heart surgery in August 2008.
    She contends Mahan made a joke about it to the other surgeons, saying, "Oh (expletive), I hit her. Can we get cultures on that?"

    Morris said she felt humiliated as the other surgeons chuckled.

    Mahan could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

    Morris claims that the incident was part of a pattern of harassing behavior by Mahan toward her.

    She also alleged that in June 2008, Mahan came up behind her and hit her in the head.

    She told him to stop, but two weeks later, he did it again, the suit alleged. Again she asked him to stop.
    Chris Valentine, a spokesman for the hospital, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

    "Obviously, because it's in legal hands, we're not in a position to comment," he said.

    Mahan is the chairman of cardiac and thoracic medicine at Memorial. He is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

    Morris has worked at the hospital as a nurse since June 1999. She has been a member of the heart surgery team since October 2007.

    The incident with the bloody tissue occurred on Aug. 28, 2008, after normal working hours during an operation in which doctors were doing a procedure known as a pericardiectomy.

    The surgery involved removing a protective layer of tissue from the heart. Morris contends that was the bloody tissue that Mahan tossed at her. She said she was standing at a work station about 15 feet away from the operating table.

    Because the operation was still in progress, she was unable to immediately clean the part of her leg that the tissue hit.

    She filed a complaint about the incident but said that resulted in no disciplinary action.

    On Dec. 10, she filed a notice of claim against Mahan and the hospital. Her complaint to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged that she was subjected to a hostile work environment because of her gender.

    Seven days later, she said hospital administrators removed her from the heart surgery team, considered a prestigious position, and transferred her to the main operating room.

    The suit alleged that this action violated her First Amendment rights to petition the hospital to correct something she considered wrong.
    I wonder why she isn't suing the doctor as well!
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  3. by   PostOpPrincess
    He would've been the MAIN one to sue. Hm.....what's up with that...
  4. by   NurseKitten
    I agree. Fishy.
  5. by   leslie :-D
    the hospital is the one who demoted her, yes?
    whatever the reason, i'm pretty sure it was legally advised.
    i hope the hospital pays up the ying yang.

  6. by   Vito Andolini
    I wondered, too. If this is true, the doc and hospital should be culpable. If not, well, I guess she should be punished.

    I wonder if the doc was mentally "right" when he did this goofy stuff, if he did it. Did she encourage such "playfulness"? Has Doc ever done this to anyone else? So many questions.
  7. by   SimonJester
    The hospital is owned by our city, i.e.. deeper pockets... In the midst of budget cuts to most all city services we did not need this...

    I'd say get rid of the doc and give her back her position, however Im sure the lawyers wont go for that...
  8. by   Torchedfury89
    This is outrageous. This is a prime example of a need for further aggressive policies in health care centers to deter this behavior.
  9. by   CityKat
    Ah, it will be interesting. I'm all for making Memorial and the doc pay; totally unacceptable behavior. I think the nurse is doing the right thing in standing up for herself and pressing charges, etc. If we as nurses continue to allow this type of behavior from people in the work force, we will continue to be stagnant and this type of behavior will continue; putting nurses down, etc. We must always stand up for ourselves instead of playing the silent card.

    Just my .02 of course
  10. by   GadgetRN71
    I believe this nurse..some of these surgeons are so unbelievably arrogant. They are not used to people standing up for themselves. I know this wouldn't fly in my specialty, because our manager stands behind us. Also, we have a union. And, I have mastered the fine art of stealth payback. He wouldn't do that to me twice..

    I worked at a place a while ago that had a surgeon who used to throw sharps..he was disciplined. I say kudos to this nurse for pursuing this...I hope she wins lots of money.
  11. by   RN1982
    If a doc threw anything at me I would say, "Aim better so I can sue your ass."
  12. by   Anisettes
    I believe the nurse as well, some surgeons are unbelievably outrageous - to the point that when you recount some of the things they say and do (and get away with) people stare at you like you're making it up. I might think so as well had I not been first hand witness to so much of it, honestly, you can't make up some of the stuff they do and say.

    And the top offenders seem to be (IMO) a toss up between between Cardio-Thoracic and Neuro surgeons. I always thought the best reality show in the world would be to place a hidden camera in the OR and let the public really see what goes on behind those OR doors. (without the surgeons knowledge - 'cause when they know the camera is on they're completely different).

    We had one of the worst offenders followed by Trauma Life in the ER into the operating room and you wouldn't have known it was the same person, it was honestly the first time ANYONE had ever heard him utter the words please and thank you, of course when the camera crew left Dr. Jekyll turned back into Mr. Hyde
  13. by   Triage24
    I would file a suit against the hospital and the DR. I would also file charges for assault. Some Dr's are great. Some have the I am above the rules mentality. Many hospital administrations let them get away with it. Nurses need to always stand up to them and be willing to support each other. I would make it a life mission to make this one famous and pay big time.
  14. by   MissPiggy
    I'd say get rid of the doc and give her back her position, however Im sure the lawyers wont go for that

    Precisely - what the hospital is doing is to victimize the victim again. She should demand punitive damages from the hospital as well because they knew about this and did NOTHING to him.