Dr. Timothy Brown, an orthopedic surgeon at Boston Medical Center, was disciplined by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine (Board) after being charged with leaving the operating room at a critical point in an operation to deliver a lecture elsewhere in the hospital.
Brown left the operating room and allowed doctors-in-training to continue the surgery on the severely broken arm of the victim of a car accident. According to the Board, this is a direct violation of state regulations.
The staff in the operating room tried to page Brown numerous times but he did not have his pager with him. The medical residents were forced to proceed with the surgery on their own, attaching surgical hardware (a plate and screws) to the patient’s fractured arm.
Brown eventually returned to the operating room in time to complete the surgery and treat the patient for a broken jaw. There was no indication that Brown’s absence resulted in any complications or injuries to the patient.
A similar incident occurred in 2002 when another doctor left his patient at Mount Auburn Hospital to run an errand at a bank. The Board cited two major differences in the cases, however. Brown never left the hospital grounds and was performing a professional obligation while the other doctor had simply left the building to run a personal errand.
Brown, who has no prior history of board discipline, was given five years of probation and a written reprimand from the hospital for failing to supervise doctors-in-training. He was able t avoid a suspension by voluntarily agreeing to permit another doctor to monitor his operations for at least one year.